This year in August I took part in a three-week voluntary service in Wellington, capital of New Zeeland. As NATUCATE supported me throughout the planning process applying for the programme and booking flights was very easy – thanks for the support!
On my departure day I was a bit nervous because of the following three flights to a foreign country. After my arrival in Wellington I was quite exhausted. I had to answer a lot of questions at the customs area and afterwards I was finally able to make my way to the hotel I had booked for the following night.
The next day started at 11am in the “Truby King House” where I stayed for the rest of my trip. First I met some staff members of NATUCATE’s partner organization and learned some facts about their work. At 2pm I got to know the other volunteers and we had lunch together. Fridays are special days in the “Truby King House”, as new volunteers arrive to start their voluntary work and volunteers whose time in project comes to an end leave the house.
The working days for the voluntary service are from Mondays to Fridays. Each day we were picked up from an associate at 8:30am (his name is Dave) and taken to the project site. Depending on the weather and the timetable; the activities we were involved in were remove weeds, planting young trees and grasses or relocating seedlings into pots in a “nursery” which grow up to young trees.
Thursday was always a special day because the entire team worked together in the “Zealandia”. “Zealandia” is a superb reserve where people take care of New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna. In the past colonialists from Europe imported many foreign animal and plant species to New Zeeland. That was and is a big problem as the indigenous flora and fauna was not prepared for this. New Zealand has a unique flora and fauna, which is protected from the government.
The work in Zealandia mainly included removing vegetation from a long fence which protects the indigenous nature from harmful mammals. The daily working hours were dependent on different weather conditions, the speed of work and the different activities. On average, my team and I finished work at around 1 or 2pm. We were always picked up by a staff member and taken back to “Truby King House” where we could get some rest.
We could use the rest of the day for own activities. In the evening we got dinner from Billie, a nice lady who cooked for the volunteers during the week (but not on the weekend). Dinner was always fun and we talked about pretty much everything. If the weather was bad you could use the Wi-Fi as well as the modern flatscreen TV to watch Netflix. At the weekend we had free time, too. For free time activities there is a zoo in close proximity to the volunteer house; you can also go on a sightseeing trip in town or enjoy long lonely walks in nature.
It was hard to say goodbye after my three weeks had come to an end. I definitely do not want to miss my volunteer trip, even if some aspects did not meet my expectations. However, I was able to improve my English, witnessed unique landscapes and a fascinating flora and fauna, which I had never seen before. Thanks again to NATUCATE for the support and for the awesome trip. I am sure that I will come back to New Zeeland, maybe to see the southern island.