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Timaru is the urban hub of South Canterbury and includes a cargo port. It services the agricultural sector and is a distribution point for South Island exports and imports. In Timaru most of the industrial activity is in the northern suburb of Washdyke. Apart from the commercial centre, the land area is largely residential. As a high ridge separates Washdyke from the rest of Timaru and the emission sources are different, air quality in these areas are managed separately. Air quality is currently monitored at a site in Anzac Square (residential) shown as a white dot on the map, with a new industrial site being established in Washdyke after the land use of the Washdyke Flat Road site changed.

In the past PM10 monitoring has been carried out in other areas (shown in grey) to understand air pollution across Timaru city and Washdyke. In Timaru city in 2005, this found that the concentrations were highest in the south (Cain St) and lowest in the west (Hurdley St). These results suggest that the Timaru city site at Anzac Square (close to Cain St) is in a high PM10 concentrations area and management on the basis of measurements at this site is therefore appropriate.

A spatial study was also conducted in Washdyke over three months in 2009. PM10 concentrations were consistently higher north of the Washdyke Flat Road monitoring site (Hilton Highway and Flemington St). For this reason another permanent monitoring site in Washdyke has been sought. In February 2019 the Washdyke Flat Road site was no longer available due to redevelopment and a new site was established 500m to the east.

Benzene was monitored for a year from March 2008 at four sites (Anzac Square, Fraser Park, Waimataitai and Washdyke Flat Road). At the Waimataitai site the benzene concentration was highest at 66% of the annual guideline. The benzene concentrations at the Washdyke Flat Road site were less than one third of the guideline. 

Town Summary
Air quality in this town

In Timaru, most of the PM is from the burning of wood or coal for home heating. Other outdoor sources of PM are motor vehicles, industrial and commercial processes, and natural sources. PM concentrations are highest during winter evenings, when temperatures are coldest and there is little wind.

Most of the NOx emissions are from industry and motor vehicles. 

Sources of air pollution

Home heating Industrial Outdoor burning Traffic Indoor sources Natural sources
  • Show Hide
    • Sources of PM10 emissions
    • Sources of PM2.5 emissions
    • Sources of NOx emissions
    Source Annual percentage Winter day percentage
    Home heating Home heating {{emissions.annualhome}}% {{emissions.winterhome}}%
    Industrial Industrial {{emissions.annualindustry}}% {{emissions.winterindustry}}%
    Outdoor burning Outdoor burning {{emissions.annualoutdoor}}% {{emissions.winteroutdoor}}%
    Traffic Traffic {{emissions.annualmotor}}% {{emissions.wintermotor}}%
    Relative breakdown
    Winter day

    The table shows the proportions of the main sources of PM10, PM2.5 and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in this town from home heating, industrial activities, outdoor burning and traffic.  (Indoor, natural and shipping sources are not included in this breakdown). 

    These values come from 2013 data sourced from MfE’s data service.  Consistent methodology was used to calculate these estimates of PM and NOx emissions, which allows comparison between towns throughout New Zealand.  Regional council or unitary authority published emissions information might differ if they were prepared in a different year or used another method. Contact your regional council or unitary authority for more information about PM and other emissions in your area.

    In this airshed there are additional emissions that are not included in these results, being shipping and port activities which make up 13% of annual PM10 and 14% of annual PM2.5.

Seasonal variation

  • Show wind speed
  • Show temperature



Wind speed (km/h)

Air temperature (℃)

What is this graph showing me?

The graph shows the monthly average PM concentrations at one representative site in this town for the year selected. In many towns in New Zealand, PM peaks in the winter when air temperatures and wind speeds are lowest as more people heat their homes during colder weather, and still conditions mean that there is no wind to disperse the air pollutants.

Sites 13
Monitored sites in Timaru

Monitored sites in this town can be categorised according to location:

  • Residential: Air monitoring site is in a suburban area with a relatively high population density, but not close to a busy road or industry.
  • Traffic: Air monitoring site is very close to a busy road or intersection.
  • Industry: Air monitoring site is close to industry, including heavy commercial and processing factories.
  • Coastal: Air monitoring site is close to the coast where there are high levels of sea salt in the air.
  • NES: A site monitored for compliance with the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality (NES-AQ).

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