The economy of the district is built on farming, tourism and hydro-electric development.
Pastoralism is the dominant form of agriculture in the region however more intensive land uses such as forestry, dairying, cropping and horticulture are becoming increasingly common and offer considerable scope to grow the local economy.
The district is fortunate in having Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook, the international tourist icons, within its boundaries. They provide an excellent platform from which to develop the tourism potential of the Mackenzie region.
The vast water resources of the area have provided the base for an extensive hydro-electricity generation industry. Further opportunities exist to tap this water resource both for electricity generation and irrigation.