As its name suggests, Southland is found in the deep south of New Zealand. Though it might lack the big-city thrills that come with Auckland or Christchurch, Southland more than holds its own when it comes to quality of life, career opportunities and a genuine slice of Kiwiana.
It’s in Southland that you’ll find New Zealand’s lowest average house prices, but this doesn’t mean that the salaries are down, too – rather, they’re up there with some of the most competitive in New Zealand.
Agriculture remains the biggest industry in Southland, but there are other sectors to choose from if you want to make the region your home – and with a lifestyle like this, why wouldn’t you?
What to expect from the Southland scenery
Southland is a largely rural area, with just one city, Invercargill. With a population just shy of 60,000, Invercargill has more of a small town feel than that of a large city, but it still offers the best of worlds. Outside of Invercargill, Southland is made up of extensive, rolling farmland, complete with rivers replete with trout. Soaring mountains and deep, blue lakes cover the rest of the region, framed by one of the wildest coastlines in the entire country.
Working in Southland
Though perhaps not a traditional hotspot for migrants, Southland is gradually becoming more popular for skilled workers. Professionals from the United Kingdom, Asia and Europe all call Southland home, and these grow by the day, so you’ll be in good company.
It’ll perhaps come as little surprise that the majority of Southland’s industry is agricultural in nature, and it’s dairy farming that leads the way. Southland is also home to the biggest raw milk processing plant on the planet, and there are well over 5 million sheep in the region – it’s no myth that New Zealand is awash with the furry farm animals, and you’ll spot them at every turn here.
Bluff, a small town famous for its oysters, also plays host to New Zealand’s only aluminium smelter, which is a big attraction for workers skilled in this profession. Additionally, Southland is big on tourism – according to New Zealand Now, the region’s Fiordland National Park accounts for a quarter of the dollars spent by tourists in New Zealand each year, with forestry and fishing rounding off Southland’s many booming sectors.
What to do in Southland
When you’ve finished a day’s work, Southland offers you a whole host of things to see and do. You simply can’t set foot in the area without paying a visit to Milford Sound. Regularly voted one of the world’s top travel destinations, let alone New Zealand, Milford Sound simply has to be seen to be believed. It’s something of a cliche to say it, but visiting Milford Sound is like stepping back to the time of the dinosaurs – an area so endowed with natural beauty no camera could ever do it justice.
To get there, though, you’ll have to travel through the Homer Tunnel. It slices its way through the mountainside, diving 1,270 metres through the granite, before emerging back onto the jaw-dropping Milford Track. Before you enter the tunnel (which is controlled by traffic lights on either side as it isn’t particularly wide) there’s an opportunity to get out the car and grab a beautiful picture.
Just outside the town of Te Anau is the Milford Road, a route which will take you all the way to Milford Sound. Along the way, there are a great many places to stop and check out the next scenic attraction, and one of the best of these are the Mirror Lakes.
They aren’t so-called for no reason. On a calm, clear day, the soaring Earl Mountains are perfectly reflected in the pancake-flat surface. Almost as if they are showing off, the Mirror Lakes are introduced by a sign written backwards and upside-down, which only reveals its message when reflected in the water.
We’ve already talked about Bluff and its famous oysters. In the cold stretch of water between Bluff (which is actually the southernmost tip of the South Island) and Stewart Island grow said beautiful oysters that are renowned across the nation. They grow slowly in the clean Foveaux Strait and, during the season, are harvested by Bluff’s dedicated oyster fleet. You could, of course, enjoy a bluff oyster anywhere in New Zealand, but nothing beats paying a visit to their point of origin itself – and they’ll never be fresher!
For something a little out of the ordinary, why not head to Teapot Land? That’s right – doen in Owaka in the Catlins area, you might just happen across 1,200 teapots sitting in the front garden on a house down Main Road. Who knows why? We don’t know – but it’ll make a fascinating change to the usual run-of-the-mill drive!
Southland is a region that has everything going for it – affordable housing, a wealth of jobs and an enviable lifestyle. If you find that your skills and qualifications match those required in the region, Southland is definitely one to consider when planning your move to New Zealand.