Adventures at the end of the Long White Cloud

Our Next Life

  • David Swann

Where, oh where?

Milford Track

We know we want to move down to Southland - the Southern province in New Zealand. It’s a stunningly beautiful part of the world and is also just about the most affordable in terms of housing.

Let’s do some geography… because geography matters and its in my DNA. I’ll skip the map showing where New Zealand is… First, here’s a map showing where Southland is:

Southland - the End of the Long White Cloud

That little green island off the bottom of the South Island is Stewart Island - the third major Island of New Zealand.

Southland’s not the largest province but it’s the emptiest! 28,681 square kilometres with a population of 99,100… that’s less than four people per square kilometre! The population density map shows just how much of Southland is entirely unpopulated (the dark green area has NO people:

Population Density - Dark Green is empty!

We have a shallow need to be within reach of the fripperies of civilisation - things like supermarkets, broadband, coffee and electricity. Which narrows things down to the area around Invercargill - the major population centre of Southland - population just shy of 50,000. Let's put a 'coffee range' of about an hour:

The need for Caffeine within 1 hour... how shallow!

Our cunning plan is that our income will come from running a great AirBNB business. So that must be the primary consideration - why do visitors come to Southland? We need to follow the visitors.

Tripadvisor is a great resource for figuring this out… but care is needed. Southland has lots to see and do, from Milford Sound in the North to the Catlins in the East to Fiordland National Park in the West and Bluff in the South. But here's the thing: they're ALL within 2-3 hours of Invercargill:

Drive Times from Invercargill

Let's focus back within coffee range... phew! The small town of Bluff is regarded by tourists as the Southern tip of New Zealand. (It isn’t. Slope Point, further to the East is further South… and anyway, fairly obviously, Stewart Island is part of New Zealand as is even further South… and Campbell Island are part of New Zealand and even further South.) I digress. Tourists regard Bluff as the Southernmost point, they will be our customers and the customer is ALWAYS right. So Bluff it is.

My point is that Bluff is an attractor… if you want to ‘do’ New Zealand, you need to go from Cape Reinga (which isn’t the northernmost point... ) to Bluff (which isn’t the southernmost point). So you’ll need to stay somewhere.

We have a budget and Bluff will stretch the limits of that budget. We’ll get more space if we go slightly further afield. (Stretching the limits of coffee accessibility - oh the humanity!)

There’s another big draw - and that’s the Te Araroa long-distance trail which extends from Cape Reinga to Bluff (I’ll avoid the pedantic temptation…). In Southland, it meanders around a bit:

The Start (or End) of Te Araroa

We’re both passionate hikers so the prospect of living near the trail and being able to provide accommodation for long-distance hikers is an attractive one. Hey, we might even start tackling the trail ourselves!

There are some specific areas we're looking at. In the first instance, we’ll be taking a look at the small community of Riverton which is a 30 minute drive West from Invercargill. We've always loved living by the sea, even though this is a fairly harcore bit of sea with Antarctica across the other side!

We’ve also been looking at Trademe property (like EBay but kiwi-as). The sort of property we’re after will cost us $200k in Riverton… but meanwhile just up the road there’s a linear community around the Ohai, Nightcaps area which is about 30 minutes North of Riverton. In this area, that same property is in the low $100k range. Wow! And yet it's only an hour away from Invercargill. So that's also going to get some interest.

There are also some smaller communities along the edge of the Fiordland National Park. They're at the extreme edge of our comfort range but a large place with a couple of hectares of land is as little as $100k. Wow!

All these thoughts are guiding our planning for our recce visit down to Southland. We have four days in which to get a better feel for these locations and take a look at the type of properties that we can afford. Wish us luck!

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Bluff, Southland, New Zealand


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