Before departing to New Zealand
In order to join the project, you need to be passionate about nature and wildlife and have solid communication skills in the English language. Female participants need to be at least 18 years old, male participants need to be at least 20 years old. Moreover, it is important that you are physically fit as participating in the project involves lots of walking and manual work in often rough terrain. This is why we ask you to hand in a medical questionnaire, signed by your doctor, confirming that you are healthy and fit. Obtaining travel health insurance is also obligatory before your participation in the project. Last but not least, it is essential that you have a high level of interest in species conservation, sustainability and living off the grid and are a team player, motivated, willing to learn, open-minded and flexible. Please note: You will also need to apply for a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authorization (NZeTA) before departure. To receive detailed information about the visa regulations for your nationality check in the Immigration New Zealand website and contact the foreign department of your country.
The Natucate team will arrange your placement in the project and provide you with comprehensive support during your travel preparations. We are always available to answer your questions, advise you on the choice of travel insurance and help you book your flights. We provide you with sufficient pre-departure information material and will be available 24/7 during your stay in the project.
On site, the programme fee includes transfer from Dargaville to the project site and back, main meals (incl. drinking water, tea, coffee, hot chocolate) and accommodation during the project period, training on-site, safety equipment and weekly excursions. The programme fee does not include flights, NZeTA/visa fees, travel insurance costs, airport transfer to/from Dargaville, additional drinks and snacks, accommodation/board on the last weekend of a month and other personal expenses (e.g. souvenirs, calling card, individual trips/transfers etc.).
Depending on from where you travel to New Zealand, no special vaccinations need to be carried out in advance. In general, however, it is advisable to get the following vaccinations for New Zealand: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, meningitis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles. More information/advice can be found, for example, on the pages of the CDC.
You should also take your own small first-aid kit with you that includes plasters, electrolytes, antihistamines, diarrhea medication and (head) pain killers. In addition, you should take sufficient amounts of medication with you that must be taken daily. Before starting your journey, please talk to your doctor about possible risks and recommended vaccinations. Authorities such as the foreign office of your country may also provide you with comprehensive travel and safety information. Obtaining travel health insurance is obligatory for all volunteers.
You can participate in the project for two, four, six, eight, ten or twelve weeks.
Please bring solid hiking shoes plus sturdy rubber boots, warm clothes (but also some t-shirts and shorts), wet weather gear (rain jacket, pants, rainproof boots), enough socks and underwear for two weeks, a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and a warm sleeping bag with you. Insect repellent, some additional drinks/snacks, books, pen and paper are also recommended. Don’t forget a daypack, a personal small aid kit, a mobile phone/alarm clock, toiletries, an adapter and swimming gear. You will receive a detailed packing list before your departure.
Note: Bring clothes that can get dirty!
Yes, absolutely. Our partner is quite experienced with academic requirements. Please note that for students that require support the price is higher by EUR 25 per week. This extra cost covers weekly discussions, project suggestions, form filling, and one review of the draft report (if written in English, French or Spanish). You can contact the team of Natucate if you are planning to join the project to write your thesis – we will talk to our partner and make arrangements.
Arrival in New Zealand
You need to arrive at Auckland International Airport. Your flight should arrive one day before the projects starts, on Sunday. This means you need to spend one night in the city. The next morning at around 07:30 AM you need to catch an intercity from Auckland to the city of Whangarei. From here, a public bus will take you to the small town of Dargaville where you will arrive around 05:30 PM. Our partner’s transfer service will pick you up from Dargaville at 05:30 PM and take you to the base station.
After arrival at the base station, you can settle in and get to know your fellow volunteers and supervisors. Afterwards, you’ll receive an overview of the project, including its aims, tasks and important rules and regulations. In the evening you can enjoy a hearty dinner with your group before project works starts on the following day.
In the project in New Zealand
A typical volunteer day looks like this:
08:00 – 09:00 AM: Breakfast
09:00 – 09:30 AM: Clean-up
10:00 – 12:00 PM: Morning conservation activity
12.00 – 01:00 PM: Lunch/picnic
01:00 – 04:00 PM: Afternoon conservation activity
04:00 – 06:00 PM: Free time
06:00 – 08:00 PM: Dinner
08:00 – bedtime: Free time
Four days per week are for conservation work in the forest, one day is for maintenance work at the base station, one day is for excursions and one day is free.
Your entire schedule is mainly dependent on the weather and may suddenly change. Please be patient, open-minded and flexible.
Please note: On the last weekend of a month, the project finishes on a Friday and picks up its work on the following Monday. Volunteers will be dropped off in Dargaville on Friday morning at 07:00 AM and taken back to the base station on Monday evening at 05:30 PM. On this weekend, you are responsible for accommodation, board and any personal trips/transfers yourself.
Your activities focus on conservation work or work at the base camp. Depending on the weather, tasks are assigned each morning. With regards to the tasks’ difficulty and to the volunteers’ knowledge, abilities and/or interests, the team gets divided into smaller subgroups which are always rotated.
Conservation tasks include:
• kiwi, kokako, possum and rodent monitoring
• installing and monitoring traps
• installing, refilling, and monitoring bait stations
• cutting and marking tracks
• seed collection
• weed control and planting of native plants
• data entry
Base station tasks include:
• building maintenance tasks
• weeding and maintaining the herb garden
• chopping wood
• general help around the place
A volunteer group consists of max. eight participants which will be divided into smaller subgroups for project work. Together with your supervisors there will be a maximum of around 10-12 people in camp.
Life on site in New Zealand
Volunteers live on the remote sanctuary grounds, in a basic but functional base station. One of the core principles is ecofriendliness and sustainability. The base station is off the grid and uses as few resources as possible. Kitchen, showers and dining room are housed in recycled and now quite stylish shipping containers. Electricity and running water are not available. Volunteers sleep in a small dormitory cabin, equipped with bunk beds, and use shared outdoor sanitary facilities. To have a hot shower, water will be heated up. For a small extra fee, you may switch your accommodation to one of the amazing tree tents.
A load of washing is done once a week; small items can be washed in the sinks. With the help of a small solar panel small devices like mobile phones can be charged (on the sunny days).
The cleaning of the facilities, including the kitchen after meals, is part of the daily tasks and each participant needs to help.
You will receive three meals per day – breakfast, lunch and dinner. For breakfast you’ll usually have muesli, sandwiches/wraps or any leftovers from the previous day are served for lunch, and for dinner you can enjoy organic burgers, hummus and falafel, rösti, tikka masala, chili con or sin carne and pancakes. Each team member contributes to the meal preparation – in case you do not know how to cook, you will learn. Drinking water, instant coffee, black tea and hot chocolate are available throughout the day. For any other drinks or snacks, please bring your own. Note: those items cannot be stored in the fridge, though.
It is possible to host vegetarian, gluten-free and lactose-fee diets. We ask you to inform us about this as early as possible so our partner has enough time to make the necessary arrangements.
Unfortunately, our partner cannot accommodate participants that are on a vegan diet.
Five days per week are intended as workdays, one day is for excursions and one day is completely off. On a workday, your starts around 08:00 AM and ends around 04:00 PM, with a lunch break in-between. Evening hours can be used for your own activities.
Furthermore, the project pauses on the last weekend of each month. Volunteers will need to leave the base camp on Friday morning and will be picked up in Dargaville on the following Monday evening.
Monday is usually your day off. As you are located in the wilderness, it won’t be possible to go somewhere. Use your leisure time to sit together with the other volunteers, to read a book or to play soccer or board/card games.
To give you the chance to get to know the Kauri Coast and New Zealand even better, our partner is pleased to share the country’s beauty on weekly excursions with you. Depending on the weather conditions, you go on a rainforest night safari, go swimming in a lake, enjoy a beach walk, do some mountain climbing or visit the oldest and biggest tree in New Zealand – the 2,000-year-old Tāne Mahuta.
You can also use the last weekend of a month for individual trips to further explore the country as the project pauses during these days (Friday morning until Monday evening).
Yes, there are always supervisors available who instruct you and assist you with questions or problems. You can also contact the team at Natucate 24/7.
The official currency in New Zealand is the New Zealand dollar. A couple of weeks before your departure you can order a certain amount of New Zealand dollar at your bank. You also have the possibility to exchange money at the airport or withdraw money with a credit card at an ATM at the airport.
Accommodation and food during the project is provided, whereas airport transfer and free-time activities are not included in the programme fee. You might also need money for free additional snacks or a calling card you want to purchase. In general, it is advisable to bring a certain amount of “emergency” cash with you.
There is no free wifi at the sanctuary grounds, that’s why you will need to buy your own mobile broadband plan. Strong mobile phone signal on the Telecom, Vodafone, 2degrees and Skinny (recommended) networks is available in the common area of the base station for both internet and voice. Phone signal won’t be available in the forest.
The climate on New Zealand’s west coast is generally mild. But weather may change quickly and it can suddenly start raining and get quite chilly, even in the middle of summer. That’s why you should not forget to bring warm and waterproof clothing! Something you should keep in mind: it is possible to experience all four seasons in one day.
The consumption of alcohol or other drugs is not allowed while being on sanctuary grounds. Failure to comply with these camp rules will result in immediate termination of participation in the programme, without any refund of costs. Furthermore, participants who smoke cannot join the project – e-cigarettes are an exception.
Work usually takes place in groups, and dangerous activities are not performed. Dangerous animals do not live in New Zealand’s forests. At the beginning of their stay, volunteers will be trained in using the compass/radio to ensure continuous contact and positioning. Staff members are trained in first aid; first aid kits are available on site. The closest medical clinic is in the small town of Dargaville, about 50 km away. A larger hospital with an emergency room can be found in Whangarei, about 100km away.
If friends or family need to contact you due to an emergency situation, they should get into touch with Natucate directly. We will then reach out to our partner immediately.