11 May 2018

Swapping Auckland life for the real country

From Country Life, 9:27 pm on 11 May 2018

One day at work in Auckland, Laura Douglas picked up a biro and drew a picture of what she dreamed her life would be in five years time.

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Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

She was living the corporate life. "Skirt-suits, heels, the whole nine yards."

On that piece of refill paper that day was "a horse, a dog, me with a glass of whisky looking out over some mountains with a jet boat and a 4-wheel drive truck in the driveway. And it kind of dawned on me that even if I made all of this money in this career, living in the middle of Auckland I was never going to have that life."

So Laura, who is from a farm near Mossburn in Southland,  quit her job, moved back to the South Island and took minimum-pay jobs while she set up her own business, Real Country.

Now her standard working attire is jeans and gumboots.

Real Country is a tourism venture based in Kingston, a 40 minute drive from Queenstown, that takes tourists out onto a farm and gives them the opportunity to take part in activities Laura enjoyed while she was growing up.

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Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

"Queenstown has got so much to offer but it's not a true reflection of what New Zealand, particularly rural life, is about.

"I think we are going to see a trend with more tourists wanting to get out of Queenstown after a day or two to explore what I call real New Zealand."

She credits social media for helping her business grow so quickly.

Glowing reviews have lead to an approach by the international travel company Contiki and, come October, it will be sending bus-loads of tourists Laura's way.