The Waikato region is one of the most productive in New Zealand. Its prime location and diverse economy are the springboard for innovation and industry.
The region is an agricultural powerhouse and a key contributor to New Zealand's dairy industry. It has strengths in manufacturing and is well supported by strong science, research and professional services sectors.
Centrally located in the heart of the upper North Island, the Waikato is located on a nationally significant infrastructure corridor.
The region is part of the ‘golden triangle’ connecting Hamilton, Auckland and Tauranga, which also provides access to a sizable labour market of more than 3 million people.
Businesses based in the Waikato take advantage of its prime location near key logistics and freight hubs.
Primary and manufacturing exports are sent to markets through major sea ports at Auckland and Tauranga, each about 90 minutes away by road.
Over recent years the Government has invested more per capita in Waikato roading and communications infrastructure than in any other region.
When compared to other regions, the Waikato is especially competitive when it comes to the cost of doing business.
The cost of office and warehouse space, housing, labour and utilities represents excellent value for money.
According to Colliers 2019 industrial national review, commercial leases for warehouses in Hamilton average $105-$130/sqm per annum and for offices average $170-$220/sqm per annum. These are for net prime rentals.
The average house price in the Waikato is $547,984 compared to the national average of $687,099. As an indication of the cost of labour, $58,531 is the mean annual earnings in the Waikato.
Employers in the Waikato region enjoy access to a young, educated and ambitious workforce.
With an average age of 32, 40% of our workforce has a degree or higher level of education. Our region is also home to around 40,000 students and boasts an unemployment rate of just 3.7%
When it comes to continuing education and professional development, the Waikato has a selection of quality education providers and learning institutions to choose from including:
- The University of Waikato
- The Waikato Institute of Technology (WINTEC)
- Te Wānanga o Aotearoa
- Research and Tech Hub
Thriving Industry Sectors
The Waikato is home to one of the world’s most productive primary agricultural sectors.
Our abundance of fertile land has enabled us to thrive as a dairy production powerhouse and earn a reputation as a food basket for New Zealand and the world.
Our region’s primary industries are supported by robust sectors in technology and high-value manufacturing. The Waikato is one of our country’s fastest growing tech sectors, with agri-tech in particular continuing to grow at an exponential rate.
Those who live and work in the Waikato enjoy a quality of life rivalled by few.
Synonymous with clean green open spaces, the Waikato is also home to some of our country’s most magnificent lakes, mountains and beaches. These landscapes, along with a selection of world-class, purpose-built facilities, has seen high performance sport thrive in our region.
The Waikato has an emerging gastronomic and café culture meaning we are spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants, bars and eateries.
For those with families, the Waikato region offers affordable childcare options together with high-quality education facilities.
The Waikato has a range of housing options. The mean house value for the year ended 30 June 2019 was $603,819. The mean weekly rent for the year ended December 2019 was $400.
The Waikato is culturally rich and diverse, with a number of events, exhibitions and experiences, which celebrate our proud Māori and Pakeha heritage.
Sectors of opportunity
Manufacturing is a diverse, innovative and vitally important part of Waikato’s economy – it is our second largest contributor to regional GDP after the agriculture sector and employs almost 25,000 people.
Manufacturing is one of the main ways that we add value to our agricultural products with the Waikato strongly focused on high-value dairy and meat product manufacturing. Food product manufacturing contributes over 60% of Waikato’s exports, signifying the high quality of our food products and the strong demand for them from overseas.
Logistics and Distribution
The Waikato is superbly located to nurture a strong logistics sector for New Zealand. The Waikato is centrally located at the heart of the upper North Island and is part of the golden triangle of Tauranga and Auckland – of which over 3 million people reside. Primary and manufacturing exports are sent to markets through major sea ports at Tauranga and Auckland, each about 90 minutes away by road. Logistics is expected to grow significantly in the Waikato due to the development of Ports of Auckland’s new inland port at Horotiu (first facility opened in May 2019) and a venture between Tainui Group Holdings and Port of Tauranga to establish the Ruakura Inland Port by late 2021.
The Waikato is the dairy production powerhouse of New Zealand, producing more than 25% of New Zealand’s milk supply. Our land is highly productive and fertile, and our expertise in pasture based management systems is world renowned.
While dairying and agricultural bio-technology are the key drivers of the Waikato’s economy, our agriculture sector is diverse and multifaceted. Thoroughbred horse breeding and training, forestry, aquaculture (particularly mussel farming) and other livestock farming are important contributors to agriculture in the Waikato. Many of New Zealand’s leading agri-science research facilities are based here, with the electric fence and aerial top dressing two of the innovations to come from the region.
From Waikato to the world. New Zealand’s first international internet connection was established in 1989 from The University of Waikato. Today, more than 50 information technology companies are based here serving international and national customers in software programming, support and decision-making tools. We are home to many innovation hubs and collaborative tech associations, and we are proud to have been identified as the fastest-growing tech region in the country in 2017 and 2018.
Education and Training
Our region is proud to be home to many leading education providers across all educational levels. Tertiary institutes include the world-ranked University of Waikato, Waikato Institute of Technology and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. With our region experiencing strong population growth, the education sector will continue to grow and also with offerings for international students.
Healthcare is the second largest employer in the Waikato, employing 1 in 11 workers. We have 6 public hospitals, the largest of which is the Waikato Hospital in Hamilton. Due to an ageing population, increased societal focus on health and longer lifespans, the role of the healthcare sector is expected to continue to grow.
There is a strong construction pipeline in the Waikato with building consents, roading infrastructure developments and housing projects on the rise. This is partially driven by our relatively high population growth rate of 1.7% per annum over the last 10 years compared to the national growth rate of 1.3%. The investment in the construction sector increases demand for construction-related occupations and apprenticeship programmes.