The southernmost part of New Zealand is home to the Catlins. An area well known for it beauty and wildlife.
Despite the high number of tourists that come to this region, it is still relatively unpopulated. There are no large towns in the region at all. Although not far apart in distance, the inhabited areas are separated by some rough country. Unpaved roads are quite common. The lack of highways has kept a unique feel to each village. The locals seem to genuinely welcome each visitor they meet.
We had our first “Farm Stay” just a few kilometers away from the southern tip of the island at the “Slope Point Backpackers”. It really is a working sheep farm. The reception is at the farmhouse, with several children running around outside. Quite affordable considering the region. Rooms were a bit small but the shared spaces were nicely furnished and comfortable. We did experience some sand flies here. (Nasty buggers!) But not very many.
Down on the coast we find a national park that contains a petrified forest. 170 million years ago, it really was wood. Now it’s turned to stone! The park service says that in the last 30 years a large portion of the forest has been taken by those visiting, piece by piece. I say “take only photographs, leave only footprints.” (No idea who originally said that. A Google search didn’t help either.)