Gap Years, Conservation Volunteering

Conservation Volunteer, New Zealand

This conservation volunteer programme in New Zealand is a great way to enjoy the island's beautiful environment whilst making a practical contribution to its conservation endeavours.

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£242.00 ⁄ wk

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This conservation programme in New Zealand is a great way to enjoy New Zealand's beautiful environment whilst making a practical contribution to its conservation. New Zealand has one of the world's most spectacular natural landscapes, with rainforests, fjords, beautiful coastlines, mountains and volcanoes.

You will be put in teams with other volunteers (usually groups of between 6 and 10 people) and travel together to complete conservation projects in urban, regional and remote areas. You will be assigned to a range of different conservation projects, with a mixture of activities including tree planting, track building, flora and fauna surveys, weed control and heritage restoration projects.

The conservation volunteer teams include local and international volunteers of a wide range of ages from different backgrounds across New Zealand and the world. You will be managed by professional team leaders who are qualified to ensure the safety and welfare of volunteers. Volunteers are able to choose from a selection of starting locations around New Zealand, and each week or two means a different project in a different location.


Project details

  • What's included?
  • Dates & duration
  • Eligibility
  • Location
  • Project life
  • Accommodation
  • Flights & Visas
  • Insurance

What's included?

  • Pre-departure information and advice
  • In-country assistance and support
  • 24-hour emergency contacts
  • In-country induction or training
  • Supervised projects with team leader
  • Whilst volunteering, all transportation from the accommodation to the project and back is included
  • Accommodation: volunteer house or on-project accommodation
  • Food: all meals included during project and on weekends, with volunteers helping to cook and clean up

What's NOT included?

  • Flights
  • Insurance
  • Visas
  • Sightseeing activities
  • Monthly stipend
  • Transportation: airport pick up and drop-off (all project start points are within easy reach by a short bus, train or taxi ride from the airport)

Dates and duration

  • We recommend arriving with enough time to go to our partner organisation’s office on the Friday to begin your induction.
  • Choose between a 1 - 6 week programme, or stay longer by adding additional weeks up to the maximum that your tourist visa will allow (normally 3 - 6 months).
  • The programme finishes around 4pm on a Friday.

New Zealand's weather:

The north of New Zealand is subtropical and the south temperate. The warmest months are December, January and February, and the coldest months are June, July and August.

New Zealand’s seasons are:

Summer: December to February

Autumn: March to May

Winter: June to August

Spring: September to November

It's important to be aware that the weather in New Zealand can change unexpectedly as cold fronts or tropical cyclones quickly blow in. Be prepared for sudden changes in weather and temperature, particularly as this programme involves being outdoors each day.


  • Open to volunteers aged 18 to 70, with the majority of volunteers being aged 18 - 35.
  • There are no specific skills required to join the programme, just a willingness to get your hands dirty and to contribute to the experience within your team.
  • Your team leader will provide full training on site to give you any specific skills you need, such as species identification, or construction skills. Volunteers enjoy this aspect of the programme, especially the satisfaction they feel when they have helped plant a new forest in a week, created a wildlife habitat for an endangered species, built a boardwalk to a very high standard or learnt about the problems caused by invasive species as they remove them and return the natural balance to an area.
  • Suitable for people who enjoy outdoor activities, and have a reasonable level of fitness.
  • All briefings, safety and project instructions are given in English.


Project life

  • You will be given an induction at the office on the Friday. Following this, you may travel on to be nearer to your first project starting point (travel will be arranged for you in this case). You'll settle into one of the volunteer houses or a hostel for your first weekend – food is provided for you and your fellow volunteers to cook your meals, you'll then be able to relax and sightsee during your free time.
  • On Monday (or Sunday if you are travelling to a remote location), your team leader will pick you and the other volunteers up, and you'll travel together in the team vehicle to your first project location. Your team leader will give you a full induction to the project, and show you how to safely and effectively complete the conservation tasks assigned to you.
  • Each time you move to a new site, your team leader will give you a safety induction onsite.

The New Zealand conservation volunteer projects are managed in conjunction with project partners that may include regional councils, national parks, museums, landcare groups, conservation departments and other national conservation agencies. All of the projects can be broadly categorised into the following key focus areas: flora and fauna, landcare, parks and reserves, coasts and waterways, healthy communities, heritage and disaster relief.


Weekendson this Conservation New Zealand programme are free for volunteers to do as they please. Apart from resting at home with your new volunteer friends, here are a few suggestions of things to do whilst travelling around New Zealand:

  • Visit the geothermal centre of Rotorua and see steam rising from the ground, bubbling hot lakes, geysers, and of course, lots of mud with fascinating bubbling mud pools!
  • Punakaiki National Park is a beautiful destination – make sure you visit Pancake Rocks, formed over 30 million years ago. You’ll also see spectacular blowholes on this short loop walk. Punakaiki is also the gateway to Paparoa National Park, a 30,000-hectare landscape of native rainforest, mountain ranges and rugged coastal beaches.
  • Visit Waitomo and experience the unmistakeable light from thousands of tiny glowworms. The Waitomo glowworm, Arachnocampa luminosa, is unique to New Zealand.
  • Take the Interislander ferry between Wellington and Picton. This 92 km, three hour journey between Wellington and Picton is one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world.
  • Ride the cable car in Wellington to the Botanic Gardens and enjoy a magnificent view of the city and harbour.
  • 'Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupok- -aiwhenuakitanatahu' or 'Taumata', as it is known locally (phew!), has one of the world's longest place names. One version of the translation is 'The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose flute to his loved one'. You’ll find it close to Porangahau, south of Waipukurau in southern Hawke's Bay.
  • Go to Christchurch, and enjoy this beautiful garden city. Hire a punt on the River Avon for the ultimate in relaxing sightseeing of the Botanic Gardens and city centre.

Your project work days may vary (especially in remote projects). So, whilst volunteers will generally have two free days per week, these may not always be over the weekend.

Accommodation and Food

Volunteers will travel to our partner organisation’s office on Friday for their induction. From there you will be transported to your accommodation at the Volunteer House in Auckland where you will have a fully stocked kitchen for you to cook your meals with other volunteers.

Once volunteering at your various locations, all accommodation and meals will be included during the programme; three meals a day, seven days a week.

  • Accommodation: This varies according to project and location, and volunteers enjoy the chance to travel to a range of locations as part of this programme. Typical accommodation can include caravans, hostels, shearers' quarters, bunkhouses, and camping (tents will be supplied). Volunteers should bring a sleeping mat as well as a sleeping bag, and be prepared to share a room. 
  • Food: All meals are included. For breakfast, the project supplies cereals, bread or toast, tea and coffee. Lunch is normally a self-made sandwich and fruit; in the evening you'll be able to enjoy a meal prepared by the group, typically something like pasta, a roast or a vegetarian option.

Be prepared to help with the preparation of meals and cleaning up of dishes, plus some domestic duties as required. The project can cater for vegetarians but if you have very specific dietary requirements such as food allergies, you may need to provide your own food.

Flights, Transportation & Visas

  • Volunteers fly into either Auckland or Christchurch - You will need to be at the volunteer office on a Friday morning. Your travel advisor will confirm the time beforehand.
  • Please note that you only require a tourist visa to participate. To apply for your visa, please see the Immigration New Zealand website.
  • All transport during the project is included apart from airport transfers. The team travels together in a minibus or four-wheel drive vehicle driven by the team leader.


CIBT Visa advice...

For expert visa advice we advise our volunteer, work placement, and internship participants to get in touch with CIBT - a company that we work in partnership with. Our UK, Canadian, and US travellers can use CIBT for visa advice and to get their visa applications processed - with visas returned within a week.

Canadian citizens should state account number: 57497
US citizens should state account number: 57496

Safety & Insurance

  • All of Twin Work & Volunteer's placements are in partnership with recognised and established local organisations, run by or employing local people. These organisations, depending on the nature of what they do, might be small-scale NGOs, family projects, schools or orphanages, or local initiatives with environmental or social goals.
  • We often use local businesses to provide logistical and support services to volunteers such as transfers, pick-ups, accommodation and so on. In this way, we support the local economy through helping independent local businesses to thrive. We take our partnerships very seriously and work extremely closely with all our partners.
  • We provide 24-hour emergency support from the UK and our partners provide support locally.
  • We have an agreement with the crisis management service Tranquillico, should the very worst situations arise.
  • If any wider safety concerns arise in the destination, such as civil disturbances or natural disasters, we seek advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and implement their recommendations where appropriate.


Insurance options...

Comprehensive insurance is available for all programmes. You have no obligation to take up insurance with any of these companies, but insurance of a suitable sort is mandatory on all our programmes.

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Volunteers are assigned a conservation project on arrival. You can choose a project from various locations in either of New Zealand's two main islands (North and South). The locations listed below are the starting points for your projects - you will however spend most of your time away from major cities working on conservation tasks in regional areas.

Choose from the following starting locations:

The North Island

  • Auckland or
  • Hamilton

The North Island has plenty of rivers, volcanic regions, secluded spectacular beaches as well as tall forests, rainforests and rural landscapes.

Examples of conservation work include:

  • Planting trees in locations like Tawharanui Regional Park as part of the ongoing restoration that has resulted in many endangered birds such as the flightless Kiwi being reintroduced.
  • Projects that focus on restoring globally rare peat lakes in the Waikato area, and improving habitat for rare birds and fish.
  • Help boost native biodiversity and provide additional habitat for native birds by removing exotic weeds that threaten to swamp native plantings on the North Shore of Lucas Creek, Auckland.
  • Take part in track work to keep access to the interior open, exotic plant control, and planting at the Hunua Ranges Regional Park. This project also involves habitat restoration for Dotterels, an endangered bird species on shell banks at Duder Regional Park.

The South Island

  • Christchurch or
  • Punakaiki

The South Island is less populated than the North Island, and well known for its beautiful coastline, fantastic national parks, fjords, lakes and ski fields.

Examples of conservation work include:

  • Habitat restoration of coastal land adjacent to Paparoa National Park - including tree planting, seed collection and weed removal. Punakaiki is home to the world-famous Pancake Rocks, and provides a wonderful opportunity to explore this unique coastal landscape.
  • Projects in the heart of New Zealand's Southern Alps in the Castle Hill basin to remove introduced wild pines and restore the natural balance. Set in a unique and rugged mountainous location surrounded by limestone rock formations, providing a great opportunity to explore this alpine region.
  • Catchment Care projects in Canterbury, helping with river and stream restoration by planting native trees and tending previous plantings.

Each location offers a range of conservation projects, with a mixture of activities such as tree planting, track building, flora and fauna surveys, weed control and heritage restoration projects.

At the end of the project, volunteers will return to the city where they started, ready to travel on independently or return home.


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