Conservation volunteering in New Zealand
This project is perfect for those with a love for the environment and the great outdoors. Whether you are a student, professional or a retiree, anyone is welcome to make a genuine difference and contribute to protecting some of the most beautiful and remote islands in the world. Choose a gateway city and travel out to your conservation site to work with passionate and inspiring local Kiwis!
Environmental problems facing New Zealand
New Zealand’s legacy is ‘heritage’ and this makes up its national identity. By heritage we mean natural beauty, constructed buildings and cultural locations. Kiwi’s are proud of their special environmental status and indigenous background which is why the people who inhabit the “land of the long white cloud” are very conscious of preserving the beauty and exclusivity that they have been gifted. This is why many of the projects you will be working on are driven by inspiring and compassionate local New Zealanders.
There are 13 protected areas in New Zealand that have been reserved as National Parks. They include some of New Zealand’s most beautiful mountain and seascapes. Tongariro National Park for example is listed as one of the 27 World Heritage Sites.
New Zealanders have a special connection with their coastal regions and waterways. Unfortunately problems include coastal erosion, salinity and the effects of drought and pollution. There is loss of biodiversity, introduced foreign species, pests and problems with litter control. Volunteers help to maintain these precious areas so they can be enjoyed by people today and by future generations to come.
The environment can suffer greatly after such destruction such as fire, droughts, floods, storms and of course earthquakes. Often this is from man-made problems such as oil spills, or distressing situations such as whales beaching themselves. This is where volunteering work is paramount.
Sadly New Zealand has one of the highest rates of species loss in the world, and is home to many species currently threatened with extinction. In part this is due to the introduction of animals such as cats, deer, rats, possums and stoats. Luckily there are a growing number of sanctuaries that endeavour to conserve and protect New Zealand’s unique biodiversity and stunning bird population. Our volunteers will be lucky enough to work in conjunction with them to help create a pest-free environment with re-introduced native species.
What will I be doing ?
Enjoy preserving urban, regional and remote locations through activities such as tree planting, walking trail construction, wildlife surveys, seed collection, weed control, conservation fencing and heritage and habitat restoration.
You, and a group of up to 10 volunteers, will work under the guidance of a conservation team leader. Your team leader will give you regular safety briefings, inform you of the project aims and assist you with working effectively.
Completing a 4 week volunteer work is very much encouraged, however it is very possible to volunteer for 1,2 or 3 weeks. Typically you will spend 1-2 weeks at each project, so it is very beneficial to stay for a month in order to experience a range of projects.
Working hours are generally between 8am and 4pm but this is dependent on working conditions at the time. Conservation work can be situated in an urban or rural region so be prepared for both. During weekends you are free to enjoy independent sightseeing. Meals will be provided at your accommodation during this time.
There are three gateway cities to choose from in New Zealand.
Punakaiki – South Island
Christchurch will be your gateway city to the Punakaiki coast on the west side of the South Island. Punakaiki is most famous for the Pancake Rocks which are a heavily eroded limestone area. The ocean waves burst through the vertical blowholes creating a spectacular show!
Projects in this area focus on coastal restoration and aim to restore biodiversity, educate locals, strengthen community networks and ultimately provide ‘new heritage’ land for future generations to enjoy.
Volunteers will be tree planting, collecting seeds and eradicating foreign plant species. This is great for those interested in preserving parks, coasts and waterways.
Auckland – North Island
These projects use Auckland as the launch pad for places such as the Whakanewha Regional Park and Te Matuku Peninsular, both situated on the fabulous island of Waiheke. There may also be opportunities to help in the Atiu Creek Regional Park, the Hunua Ranges, Omana Regional Park and areas around Hamilton.
These areas boast forests and wetlands and are home to some of New Zealand’s rarest birds. One of the main environmental challenges is the growth of foreign plants such as the Japanese honeysuckle and the moth plant. Help eradicate foreign species, service baitlines, collect seeds, create walking tracks and get involved with mulching.
These projects are great for those interested in flora and fauna and preserving coasts, waterways and park lands.
Wellington – North Island
Projects from Wellington include the Anamata Stream Restoration Project which encourages landowners in rural areas to take control of the section of stream that runs through their property.
The aim for volunteers is to reduce erosion and promote biodiversity and sustainability. A great project for those interested in parks and reserves, coasts and waterways, flora and fauna and land care.
(Please note that it is only possible to choose a gateway city, not a project, as these are dependent on circumstances that can vary throughout the year).
No previous experience or qualifications are necessary to join the project. All you need is a passion for the environment, some enthusiasm and a fairly good level of fitness to help out!
Accommodation and Food
Accommodation is provided during your volunteer time and this varies depending on your project. Often volunteers stay in guest houses or hostels, but you could be going a little more rustic – think caravans, shearers’ quarters, bunkhouses or even camping (tents will be provided). We recommend that you take a sleeping bag and sleeping mat, and be prepared to share a room!
Food is also included. Prepare to get stuck in with the preparation of meals, cleaning dishes and any other household duties that need to be done. This is a fun way of getting involved and become part of the team.
- Make a difference and preserve New Zealand’s heritage by helping to maintain National Parks, coasts and waterways, flora and fauna and cultural sites.
- Enjoy volunteering in urban and rural locations enabling you to witness the diversity of New Zealand.
- Spend some time in your dynamic gateway city and enjoy local sightseeing.
- Meet like-minded volunteers on your project and enjoy weekends exploring local points of interest.
- All food and accommodation is included during your volunteering stay.
Whyshould I do this?
New Zealand is known as one of the world’s most remote destinations and the last island in the world to become inhabited by humans. With one third of the islands made up of National Park, it is vital that this amazing biodiversity is protected for years to come.
Taking part in a conservation project genuinely aids towards restoring land to its former, purer state. You will be protecting endangered species, clearing up the environment and reintroducing native plants.
This project will give you great work experience and a greater understanding of a country and culture. Live and work with the locals in areas off the beaten tourist track. Make new friends, boost your CV and contribute to the planet’s need for conservation.
You will fly into your chosen gateway city and start the project from our central offices. Most people chose to arrive a few days earlier to help with jet lag and have a bit of time to look around and get used to their new surroundings. Over the weekend following your orientation, you will meet other volunteers and, if necessary, begin travelling out to one of the regional offices by train or bus (this will be organised for you). You will then be in the best location to start volunteering on Monday morning!
Brett manages all of our conservation projects in both Australia and New Zealand. He is an experienced traveller and is no stranger to working on many of the conservation projects that he organises for volunteers. If you need any support, advice or help, Brett will be available to help alongside staff in your regional and central offices.
What is provided
- An informal phone interview with Oyster’s UK office and a chance to ask any questions that you may have
- Access to your personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the programme and manage your booking.
- Advice on obtaining a visa
- Oyster can make flight bookings if you wish. ATOL Financial Protection (as long as we book your flights)
- Comprehensive in-country orientation and welcome
- Support and advice from our UK office during your trip
- Support and advice from our partners situated in our New Zealand offices and on project sites
- All accommodation and food provided whilst on the project- including weekends
- Wildlife guidebook and/or birds guidebook
- Project-related travel costs
- Project training and safety training
- Oyster Worldwide t-shirt
- Oyster Worldwide luggage tag
- Certificate of Appreciation at conclusion of programme
On your return:
- Welcome home pack
- Certificate of recognition (on request)
- References (on request)
What do I need
- A valid passport for the duration of your stay
- Eligibility for a tourist visa
- Good travel and health insurance
- Spending money
- Strong walking boots
- Sleeping mat (optional)
- Work clothes- long trousers, long sleeved shirts, sunglasses and a sun hat are recommended
- A water bottle