Volunteering New Zealand – Jannik
Jannik became involved in protecting New Zealand's unique natural landscapes. In the following feedback interview he tells us more about his time as volunteer.
Project: Nature conservation in New Zealand
Locations: Christchurch, Punakaiki, Wellington, Auckland
Duration: Beginning of April until beginning of June 2019 – 8 weeks
Support from the Natucate team:
Volunteering in New Zealand – Feedback: Eight questions for Jannik
1) Could you give us a brief overview of your tasks in the project?
- Very common: Planting >> planting of new plants, esp. trees, mostly in fields, sometimes in greenhouses, in Wellington once with elementary school children
- Frequent: weeding >> removal of weeds and/or invasive species, either on the ground or in small potted plants, often: removal of blackberries with hedge clippers
- In Wellington and Auckland: Predator trapping >> preparation or cleaning of traps for potential predators of New Zealand’s endemic birds
- In Christchurch: Mulching >> putting mulch around newly planted plants
- In Wellington in one day: construction of a staircase for elementary school pupils
2) What was the biggest challenge for you during the project?
In the beginning it was not easy to find my way with the New Zealand food, but after the first week this was no longer a problem. Also organizing lots of things completely on my own (e.g. bookings) was challenging in the beginning, but was also great fun.
3) Was there something you liked most? Or something you remember particularly negatively?
I particularly liked the constant exchange with local volunteers in Wellington. Also the house and the catering was very good especially in Wellington. I think this was the most beautiful location. It was a pity, however, that all three locations (including the volunteer house for Auckland at the weekend) were very far away from the city centre. That's why it was hardly possible, except in a larger group (then with Uber), to go out for a long party in the evening on weekends without booking a hostel in the city, as the last buses also left very early.
Also, the fact that alcohol was completely banned in the house, combined with the fact that the houses were very far from the city centers, was somewhat annoying, but not particularly bad. The worst was probably the tap water in the Titirangi House in Auckland, which was very murky and probably undrinkable. I also liked all the team leaders, who were very nice, communicative and patient. Especially Chris was always in a good mood during work. Finally, I particularly liked the sociability of almost all the New Zealanders we met and the tourist-friendly atmosphere in the country.
4) Did you have certain expectations before travelling to the project?
In the projects I expected to meet other volunteers from all over the world, to see some of New Zealand's beautiful scenery, to get a little introduced to the biodiversity and special species and to do some meaningful work. All this has been fulfilled. It was a pity that there were only two participants in my first project, although I had expected 5 participants before. But Natucate immediately offered me support, for example by offering me to change my location immediately and go to Wellington.
5) Have you done anything in your free time that you can recommend to future participants?
- Queenstown: This city is beautiful and very good for travellers as there are several hostels in the centre of the city. There are a lot of bars and restaurants and within 10 minutes walking time you reach the gondola. You should definitely drive up where you can either try one of the extreme sports, or simply ride the toboggan run and enjoy the fantastic view.
- On the North Island you can definitely recommend a stay at Howards Mountain Lodge Tongariro. In addition to the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, after a 15-minute drive you also come to a hiking trail that leads to the "Lord of the Rings" mountain. Especially Nomads, YHA and (if you like to go to parties) Base Hostels can be recommended as hostels.
- Also day trips with Kiwi Experience (as in my case from Paihia to Cape Reinga with many stops in between plus extra activities) are very recommendable, even if you can't do them so often because of the prices.
6) What recommendations would you give to other participants?
- Get information on how many participants are at the different locations and if there are less than 4 registered participants, how best to change location. I think this is important because of the fact that you are so far away from the city and therefore it is not easy during the project to meet new people outside the project. This is particularly essential before the projects in Auckland, because you live there during the week in national parks on a lonely farm.
- Be sure to join the Facebook group “Backpacking New Zealand” at the latest when travelling (if you have Facebook). There are good chances to find travel partners who want to travel exactly the same route at the same time as you. This way it becomes clearly more fun and also cheaper and otherwise you can receive many tips about particularly beautiful places.
- Never go into town without a passport. The New Zealanders are usually very strict. In fact, I have experienced that a South American backpacker at the age of almost 30 did not get a beer in two different bars because he did not have his passport (and thus his ID number) with him, even though he looked considerably older than 18. A national identity card is never enough, even if the date of birth is in English.
- Not absolutely necessary but helpful: Take a small tablet or notebook with you as it is much easier and clearer to make bookings on the larger screens than on a mobile phone.
- Order an adapter for the sockets in New Zealand before your trip (I don't think it was on the info sheets, but it is absolutely necessary).
7) Can you estimate how many additional costs you had on site?
During the project weeks I only had little additional expenses as I only bought some small things (certain sweets, carbonated water...). It would also have been possible not to spend any money at all these weeks. Since I had planned activities for the weekends, I estimate these costs at about 600 EUR in my 6 project weeks, most of which was spent on the weekends. Including my three travel weeks, however, I quite exactly spent 3000 EUR. However, I didn’t really thought about saving money.
8) Here is still room for other suggestions or stories from you:
My advice: Travel! Even if you already see many beautiful places in the projects, you can only get to the best places when you travel on your own (at least this was the case when I was there, now that will probably change...). The best way to get to know New Zealand’s culture is during the travel weeks. In addition, independently organizing your own leisure time makes you grow personally. After some time you will surely find the perfect balance between planning and spontaneity.
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