The South Waikato is a bustling hub and a source of many raw materials, significantly shaping a robust primary sector. The sector makes up 25% of the local GDP, more than four times the national average (5.8%). The district prides itself in excelling in three key industries: forestry, dairy and manufacturing.


The South Waikato region stands as a pioneering force in New Zealand’s commercial forestry plantations, with more than one-third of the Pinus radiata forests nestled in the central North Island. This sector made a remarkable $205 million contribution to the local economy in the past year, with esteemed forestry entities such as Manu Life Forest Management (NZ) Limited firmly rooted within the district.


This thriving industry has sparked both large and small-scale business development, vividly showcased through the establishment of extensive dairy processing facilities. Notably, the district proudly hosts Fonterra’s Lichfield cheese factory, renowned as the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, alongside ofi’s new state-of-the-art multimillion-dollar processing facility. The dairy sector brought in over $235 million in GDP last year which was reflected in the milk solid outputs achieved in the district at 61 million kgs.


South Waikato houses formidable leaders in the manufacturing sector, encompassing a diverse spectrum ranging from pulp and paper to dairy product manufacturing and machinery and equipment production, offering a comprehensive landscape for industrial prowess. Notably, manufacturing emerged as the primary driver of overall district growth between 2021 and 2022, boasting a notable 4.2% growth while contributing over $360 million to the economy. Among the district’s key manufacturing powerhouses are prominent entities such as Waratah, Satco, and Oji Fibre Solutions.