Laura Douglas is the owner and operator of a rural-based tourism experience in Southland called Real Country.

Her official job title is Southern Girl and she spends her days getting guests out and about on a working sheep farm and teaching them how to crack stock whips, use a bow and arrow and shoot guns.

Born and raised on a sheep and deer farm in Northern Southland, Laura always loved working on the land but it wasn't until she was an adult and working in a corporate career, wearing stilettos and suits every day that she really appreciated how lucky she was to grow up on a working farm.

Laura never fit in the city, so in 2016 after completing an MBA and spending years working in offices to have meetings about meetings, she quit her corporate career and launched Real Country. This southern girl had a dream to set up an experience that combines good old fashioned Southern Hospitality with some kick-ass activities that showcase what she likes to call 'The Real New Zealand' to guests.

Laura was fortunate enough to be raised in Mossburn which is a supportive and fantastic Southland community. “After years of feeling out of place in cities both overseas and in NZ, it feels so good to be back in a local farming community again.”

Laura has not found starting a business to be easy. She has been juggling part-time work as a 4WD driver and clay target shooting instructor to pay the bills but thankfully she has been surrounded by supportive locals that make the journey extremely satisfying.

Laura has now signed a contract with a global tour operator and from October she will have busloads of guests pulling into the farm she operates on in Kingston to watch a farm demonstration. Demonstrations will include sheep mustering with my dog and horse and, of course, a whip cracking display.

Laura’s first income came from plucking wool off dead sheep and she believes it's that type of childhood work that sets rural girls in such good stead to rule the world.

“We are not afraid to work hard and get stuck in, we do what needs to be done and getting our hands dirty is just par for the course,” she says. “Setting up your own business absolutely requires those skills and I wouldn't be here right now if I didn't have the staunch determination that comes from a great rural upbringing.”