Australia is the 12th-largest economy in the world with the 13th-highest GDP per capita.1 It is also the sixth-largest country in the world by land area. Australia is New Zealand’s closest trading partner in distance to market. With similar cultural and social standards, labour moves reasonably easy between the two countries as there are very few language and race barriers.

Quick Facts

  • 16 percent of imports into Christchurch were from Australia ($670 million) in 2012. 11 percent of those imports were vehicles other than railway and tramway stock. This is nine percent of New Zealand’s total imports from Australia
  • 31 percent of exports out of Christchurch ports were bound for Australia ($2.4 billion) in 2012. This is seven percent of New Zealand’s total exports to Australia
  • Australia was Christchurch’s largest export market in 2012 (but is estimated to have fallen behind China in 2013)

Market Trends and Projects

Ease of Trade

Australia has the size and scope required for Christchurch to flourish. With 22 million people and two very large cities – Melbourne and Sydney – it could provide Christchurch with great growth opportunities in a wide range of industries. Similar time zones and similar workforce requirements make travel and workforce migration effective and easy.


Mining is a significant industry within the Australian economy. It employs 2.2 percent of the labour force and contributes about 5.6 percent of GDP. Mineral exports contribute 35 percent of Australia’s exports. Australia is also the world’s largest exporter of coal (35 percent of international trade) and large amounts of iron ore, lead, diamonds, rutile, zinc, zirconium, gold and uranium. The mining industry relies on
‘fly-in fly-out’ towns and that style of working shifts; this is vastly different to cities and towns within New Zealand.
The blue-collar workers in the mining industries could be attracted to Christchurch for rebuild purposes as the lifestyle and family choices in New Zealand could be seen as more attractive. This would result in an increased pressure for lower-paying industries.

Australasian Ecosystem

Christchurch is the second-largest city in New Zealand, but is much smaller when viewed from an Australasian perspective. The ease of migration between New Zealand and Australia means it is important to view Christchurch in the Australasian context. As a major trading partner and source of migration, Australia presents a unique range of opportunities if Christchurch looks to leverage its position.

1 In purchasing power parity terms (after accounting for the varying cost in purchasing goods)