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NZ, not just mountains and rings: volunteerism or voluntourism?

January 21, 2009

However you choose to label it both have the same outcome – to help others in need.  For the purpose of this post I’ll be using both terms.

Voluntourism is a growing industry within the travel area and widely debated as to the value it provides. Cambodia, Vietnam, Bolivia, Galapagos are some of the popular destinations for voluntourists – myself included.  Other countries, wealthy in their own right and hardly in need of financial aid, also carry out volunteer programmes.  New Zealand being one of them.

For some eager travellers, New Zealand as a volunteer destination doesn’t sound as sexy as a developing country but it offers just as much satisfaction and fulfillment.True you will unlikely hear calls for help from orphanages, hospitals, or schools (thankfully), you will hear calls for help to conserve its natural heritage.

Aside from monetary needs, there is one qualification required for volunteering in this area. You can come from anywhere in the world, you can differ in backgrounds, wealth, lifestyle, but you will need to be able to share a common bond with each other: a love for nature.

One of the more extensive programmes available is run by the Department of Conservation (DOC). These usually happen in the summer seasons. Sometimes preference is given to locals over visitors, but being a government department it doesn’t prejudice.  I spent time helping out on trail maintenance.  Back braking work it was, I still remember the pain and stiffness suffered over the following week, but I also remember the satisfaction I felt. Satisfaction in not only helping to maintain a beautiful trail, but seeing the smiles of thanks on peoples faces as they walked past. Or in sharing the heart felt gratitude from older walkers long past in years to volunteer themselves, although still young enough to enjoy.

If you are quick and organised, the choice of programme can be yours. From kiwi surveys, to penguin studies, island upkeep, to a six month stint on an island in the Kermadecs – Raoul.

Lance Andrews (flickr)

Lance Andrews (flickr)

Or to help in saving the rarest breed of parrots from extinction – Kakapo.

Only thirty or so of these magnificent birds exist. I love these birds, very difficult to spot in the bush, but maybe you could be one of the lucky ones.

Volunteering in New Zealand  is about discovering more of this country’s wildlife; the furry kind and the two legged beer drinking kind. It all makes for a unique experience. Here are some great websites to checkout: New Zealand Trust for Conservation a good choice if you want a non-government experience. Transitions abroad also has information,  and DOC volunteer programmes.

If you are fortunate enough, you may get to volunteer on this majestic place – D’urville Island.

source unknown

source unknown

How could you say no to this.

I want to recommend reading a great post on volunteering in the US  by new blogger friend Sharon at Everywhere Travel. She was also the inspiration behind my post. Please check her blog out it’s a good one:  Everywhere Travel blogspot

If you have questions about volunteering in New Zealand you are very welcome to drop me a line.

Caffeinated Traveller

  1. January 21, 2009 1:00 pm

    Nice post Cate. Its always nice to visit and learn a new culture, especially given the chance to be close to mother nature. I heard a similar offer like this in Oz, but its a good $$$ job offer. The offer was for someone to live in the great barrier reef, protect, promote and blog about it to entice visitors. But your offer sounds better, its hard to resist. But I think I should first do a volunteering in my own country. The tropical islands are waiting for me.

    • January 21, 2009 1:37 pm

      OMG I hadn’t finished writing this post when your comment popped up. I must have hit the publish button. It’s a good thing I wasn’t using expletives in this post. Thanks for your comments, as usual they are warming and very welcomed. Ms Herbal diva!

  2. January 23, 2009 5:24 pm

    Thanks Cate for the kind words and shout out…And nice post. I copied the info into my NZ file for future reference. We definitely plan to fly your way in the near future.


    • January 24, 2009 3:38 am

      You are very welcome. Thanks for the idea.

  3. January 25, 2009 1:35 pm

    Hi Cate, happy to talk hubpages if you want. Just tell me what you would like to know.

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