NZ Environmental Volunteering

Punakaiki, New Zealand

Conservation Program

This critical conservation program works to transform project sites on New Zealand's South Island West Coast into native rainforests and wetlands. Ambitious planting projects are achieved with the help of volunteers - recently 200,000 trees were successfully planted!  

Volunteers on this program could work on projects in a number of locations in the Punakaiki area, dependent on need at the time. Projects to restore native habitats in creeks, wetlands and islands are all essential to protecting and enhancing the native environment. 

By creating a pest-free environment and re-introducing species into protected spaces, projects strive to re-create a landscape that pre-dates the arrival of pests. Volunteers on this program work on projects to protect native species and regenerate native forest and wetland. The West Coast landscape is the only breeding habitat in the world for the endangered Tāiko Westland Pestrel so work to preserve this environment is critical to the survival of this bird.  

From working with the most threatened species, to assisting in environmental restoration, volunteers are essential to the success of this  program.

Goals of this Project:

  • Help to protect animals in danger of extinction
  • Preserve native forest areas and national parks
  • Enable inter-cultural exchange between all parties and teach international visitors more about environmental practices and New Zealand

How You Can Help

Volunteers play an integral role in achieving the goal of this program - to maintain and restore the diverse native flora and fauna ecosystem.  Volunteers work to conserve, restore, rehabilitate and manage land using conservation tools and people power to improve conservation resources and to provide access for people to enjoy and appreciate nature.

Located on the windswept western coastline of the South Island, a 4 hour journey from Christchurch, lies the isolated community of Punakaiki. Situated on the doorstep of the vast Paparoa National Park to the East and unparalleled coastline to the West, this remote and rugged location is perfect for conservation work. Volunteers build on a decade worth of work in the area, improving and manitaining the natural environment and making it accessible to visitors and locals alike. 

Volunteers are typically placed into groups of 4 - 10 people, under the direction of a Team Leader.  All training is provided on-site.

Volunteers will contribute in a number of ways and on any number of environmental or wildlife projects. Tasks vary by project site but may include: 

  • Tree planting
  • Pest eradication 
  • Walking trail construction
  • Wildlife rescue and surveys
  • Seed collection
  • Weed control
  • Conservation fencing
  • Heritage restoration
  • Beach and river clean ups



Love Volunteers welcomes all those aged 18 -75 years who wish to give their time and energy to help protect the natural environment of New Zealand. This 'hands-on' project is best suited to those who are either pursuing a career in conservation/environmental studies, or who simply wish to explore an interest in this field. However, the project is open to all and does not require participants to have specific education, qualifications or experience, as you will be shown everything you need to know by your local project leader. Importantly though, all applicants must first and foremost have a genuine willingness to help, show drive and initiative, and bring a positive 'can-do' attitude. If this sounds like you, we want you on the team!  

A packing list is provided in the Additional info. section.

Additionally, volunteers applying to join this program will be required to supply to following documentation:

  • Emergency contact
  • Resume
  • Vaccination Certificate

Find out how to obtain a police check here

Project Location

New Zealand, Punakaiki

This program is based in Punakaiki, a remote and rugged small community on the West Coast of the South Island.  Punakaiki lies on the border of Paparoa National Park and between the small coastal towns of Westport to the North and Greymouth to the South.

Punakaiki is best known for it's famous Pancake Rock formation and diverse bird and marine life. Volunteers here are based either in Punakaiki itself or in Greymouth, depending on the accommodation available and the location of their project site.

Famous for its stunning landscapes, endemic flora and fauna, impressive topography and crystal clear Pacific Ocean waters, New Zealand offers a vast array of activities for locals and international visitors alike and is an environmental jewel well worth our efforts to preserve.

Start Dates & Duration

Minimum 1 week

This project is available year-round and programs start every FRIDAY. Volunteers can choose to participate for periods ranging from 1 week to 6 weeks. Longer stays can be arranged directly with the local team, but will be subject to availability and individual visa conditions.

For current available start dates please check the calendar on the right.

Arrival & Orientation

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner , Airport Pick Up Not Included

Volunteers fly into Christchurch International Airport and make their way from there to Punakaiki to meet with the Team Leader at 11am Friday.

The local team provide a comprehensive orientation to prepare volunteers for the Conservation Experience ahead. After orientation and over the weekend there is ample opportunity to meet other volunteers, rest and relax and perhaps enjoy some independent local sightseeing.

Detailed inductions take place on the project site, conducted by the Team Leader.

  • Arrival Day: FRIDAY, 11PM in Punakaiki 
  • Departure Day: FRIDAY
  • Arrival Airport: Christchurch International Airport, Christchurch, New Zealand (CHC)

Please note you will need to arrive into Christchurch on Thursday to allow time to travel to Punakaiki. There are various ways to travel from Christchurch to Greymouth and then onto Punakaiki by bus, for example:

  • Coach:
  • Scenic train: 

Accommodation & Meals

Public Hostel / Meals Included

Volunteers on this program are accommodation locally at the Punakaiki Beach Camp. If required additional accommodation in Greymouth may be used, depending on availability and project site locations.

Rooms are dormitory in style and shared.  A mattress and pillow is provided so volunteers should bring a sleeping bag and all personal toiletries.  Full kitchen, laundry, bathroom and shower facilities are available.

Three meals per day are included in the program fee. Breakfasts will typically be self-serve cereals, bread or toast and condiments. Lunch is prepared by volunteers with ingredients provided and is likely to be sandwiches and fruit. Volunteers are also involved in preparing dinner which may include pasta, roasts and vegetarian dishes. Fresh, local cuisine after a hard day’s work – nothing tastes better!


From USD 459
Program fee:
Different currency?
USD 459

That’s just USD 66 per day* for:

  • Orientation & full safety briefing
  • Accommodation (as specified above)
  • Food & Meals (as specified above)
  • 24/7 local support network
  • Project placement & onsite supervision

*In addition to the program fees listed above a Registration Fee is payable to secure your place. The registration fee is USD 299 for those volunteering with Love Volunteers for the first time or USD 149 for any subsequent volunteer placements. The registration fee includes: lifetime LV Alumni Membership, fundraising support & advice, dedicated pre-departure support, certificate of completion (on request), and exclusive access to the LV Trip Planner.

Some things are not included in the program fees listed above, such as flights, visas, vaccinations, travel insurance, additional foods and snacks, spending money, local transport, in-country trips and excursions, return airport transfer (unless mentioned above).

Please note that prices are subject to change without notice. Please ensure you have read the Love Volunteers Terms and Conditions & Refund Policy.

Additional Info

The following items are essential on the program and must be provided by each volunteer:

  • Backpack

  • Long trousers

  • Comfortable walking or working boots

  • Wide-brimmed sun hat

  • Sleeping bag

  • SPF 50 Sunscreen

  • Towel

  • Refillable water bottle

  • Long sleeved shirts

  • Wet weather clothing

  • Tough work or gardening gloves

  • Insect repellent

  • Sunglasses