New Zealand is often seen as the country where the sheep outnumber the people, which is very true but we aren’t all about the wool – we’re known for our ‘white gold’ too. Yes I’m talking about milk! I live in a region where the dairy cows greatly outnumber the human population and dairy farming is huge. Us Kiwis love our nature, our beaches, our wildlife and obviously our lush green pastures with – you guessed it – dairy cows.
Southland is at the bottom of the South Island, the most southernmost region in New Zealand, and has a very different climate to the rest of the country due to its proximity to the South Pole, and to top it off, Southland has claim to fame by being New Zealand most sparsely populated region (in other words, there aren’t that many of us) Southland is around 28,681 km² with 3,400 km of coastal stretch. The other claim to fame should be that the region contains two National Parks; Fiordland and Rakiura National Parks. Fiordland National Park is 7,860 km² and is New Zealand’s largest National Park. Rakiura National Park takes up 85% of Steward Island which is the little island right at the bottom of mainland New Zealand (and is included in the Southland Region). Both are as stunning and diverse as the people who call New Zealand home.
Yes, New Zealand has lots of sheep compared to people. The sheep total in 2011 was 32.6 million, compared to the current 2012 human population of entire New Zealand at a mere 4.4 million. But Southland is unique once again, by being the region with only 94,900 humans compared to a whopping 589,000 dairy cows!
The New Zealand dairy industry is world famous, we have in total 11,735 dairy herds, with 5.9 million cows scattered throughout the country that are responsible for the 17.3 billion liters of milk produced per year. New Zealand controls one third of the world trade in dairy products, with 95% of the annual production in New Zealand exported overseas – not bad for a wee country even if I say so myself!
So when you hear people talking about the gorgeous landscape, the green forests, the clean beaches, the sheep and ‘kiwis’ of New Zealand, you should also remember that we love our humble dairy cow.
About the Author :
Monica Toretto is a writer, painter, photographer and blogger. She lives with her two young sons in Invercargill near Bluff. She has travelled widely in Canada and the US and worked as a veterinary technician before returning to New Zealand. Her work has appeared in several magazines in the UK and New Zealand. She has also authored a book of poetry and photography called ‘Words’.