As its name suggests Southland is the most southerly district in New
Zealand's South Island.
Maori visited the Southland area, especially around Invercargill's port at
Bluff, for several centuries before the first Europeans came in search of
seals in the later years of the eighteenth century. Early in the
nineteenth century crews of visiting ships came looking for flax, and from
1829 whalers came to share the bounty in this southern area.
The main centre for Southland is the pleasant city of Invercargill.
In 1861 Southland became a separate province with a population of 1500, 400
of whom lived in Invercargill.
Southland farmers have farmed productively the rich farmland for
generations and have exported their produce from Southland's port at Bluff.
The district has recently attracted dairy farmers to move from other areas
as it has proved very suitable for dairying.
Some of the most beautiful areas for tourists to visit are in Southland -
Lake Manapouri which has a famous underground powerhouse and Lake Te Anau
which is the gateway to Milford Sound.
Another area of remarkable beauty is the Catlins Coast with abundant bush,
isolated beaches, waterfalls, native birds, seals and sealions and it is
worth taking a detour and driving round the coast on a journey north from
Invercargill.This detour involves no greater distance than SH1, but the
winding and partly unsealed roads add to the time taken.
Southland has cooler temperatures than areas further north in New Zealand,
but the scenery and the warm welcome its people give to visitors compensate
for the weather.
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