From corporate life to gum boots – meet ‘Southern Girl’ Laura Douglas

If you’ve ever wanted to learn to crack a whip, muster sheep or fix a fence, ‘Southern Girl’ Laura Douglas is your gal. This gum boot wearing, rescue animal adopting bundle of energy is the founder and CEO of Real Country, a farm that welcomes visitors to enjoy a taste of real, rural New Zealand.

Born and raised on a sheep and deer farm in Southland, Laura grew up on horseback and surrounded by animals.  

“When people ask about my childhood, I always say how lucky I was to have a rural upbringing. To be able to do things like go out for the day by myself on my pony when I was 7. I’d take a packed lunch and Mum would say I had to be home in time for dinner.”

Laura speaking to the NZ Herald

Despite this country upbringing, after university Laura found herself working in Wellington as a finance analyst.

“I got a little bit sidetracked when I went to university, went down the corporate route and I thought that’s what adults should do – get a job, make some money, but I love the outdoors, I love my animals and I just knew it wasn’t quite right.”

Laura speaking to RNZ

Laura pursued the corporate way of life for a few years, however ultimately realised that it was never going to make her happy. So, in 2016, she founded Real Country, bringing all her rural dreams to life by creating an experience that now only allows visitors to see the inner workings of a busy rural farm, but also allows people to equip themselves with basic farm skills. At Real Country, Laura teaches anything from changing a tyre to backing a trailer, lunging a horse, rounding up sheep, and much more.

As well as this, Laura also runs the ‘Southern Girl finishing school’. This wonderful program offers a series of workshops for young girls, with the intention to build confidence in their abilities by learning farm skills and successfully completing tasks they are unfamiliar with. As an individual who was on the receiving end of bullying comments throughout her childhood, this passion project holds a special place in Laura’s heart.

Located just 40 minutes outside of Queenstown, Trafalgar guests can visit Laura and experience a slice of genuine Southern hospitality on our new Southern Stories itinerary, a domestic tour exclusively available to New Zealanders. And of course it’s not just Laura you’ll be meeting on the farm. While she will be your warm hearted host, it’s likely her menagerie of rescue animals that will steal your heart. Puppies, baby deer, alpacas, pigs, miniature ponies and a beautiful old thoroughbred racehorse are just some of the wonderful farm yard creatures that call Real Country home.

You can meet Laura Douglas, Topsy the deer and the rest of her furbabies on Trafalgar’s Southern Stories tour, part of Trafalgar’s Near Not Far Limited Series of domestic trips. For a little taste of what to expect, watch the video below:

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