NZ Environmental Volunteer

Punakaiki (West Coast), New Zealand

The Conservation Program

This amazing, collaborative conservation program is a long term project with various government, businesses, community organizations, universities and volunteers to pool resources to deliver significant environmental and community benefits in the Punakaiki area. A significant part of the program is restoring ex mining land into a nature reserve, creating an ecological corridor that spans from the mountains to sea, reflecting the rich biodiversity of the area that includes the only nesting ground of the vulnerable Westland Petrel, the natural habitat of the Blue Penguin and the sand plain forests bearing Nikau Palms and Rata trees many hundreds of years old. Volunteers will work on restoring biodiversity of the area, support species protection, help to strengthen community networks, and provide enhanced conservation land for the benefit of future generations. From working with the most threatened species, to assisting in environmental restoration, volunteers make a huge difference on this program.

Goals of this Project:

  • Help to protect the Blue Penguin and Westland Petrel
  • Create a nature reserve from ex mining land and restore native forest
  • Enhance and protect wetland ecology
  • 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 create an ecological corridor that spans from the mountains to sea, restoring ex mining land to create an amazing nature reserve.  Volunteers work to conserve, restore, rehabilitate and manage land using conservation tools and people power to improve conservation land and to provide access for people to enjoy and appreciate nature. Like many conservation programs, a willing volunteer labor force is essential to the success of the program. Volunteers will assist program staff with tasks that are essential to conservation projects such as planting, weeding, removing invasive pest plants, seed collection, plant propagation at the on-site nursery (where all native plants for the project are grown) and creating walking tracks. Working in a team of up to 10 other international volunteers, teams work alongside local communities, environmental groups, universities and conservation experts on well-planned and managed, safe, valid and essential projects. Full training is given by project team leaders. Volunteers gain a wonderful opportunity to learn about conservation issues and learn practical conservation skills and can earn references and certificates.

    Volunteers will contribute in a number of ways and on any number of environmental or wildlife projects and can expect to undertake the following tasks:

    • Plant propagation
    • Tree planting
    • Walking trail construction
    • Wildlife surveys
    • Seed collection
    • Weed control
    • Heritage restoration



      Love Volunteers welcomes all those 18 years and over 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!  

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

      Project Location

      New Zealand, Punakaiki (West Coast)

      This program takes place in the South Island of New Zealand, famous for its stunning landscapes, impressive topography and crystal clear Pacific Ocean waters. Volunteers work on projects in remote areas - truly in touch with nature and New Zealand at its best

      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 12 weeks. Longer stays can be arranged directly with the local team, but will be subject to availability and individual visa conditions.

      Spaces on this project are limited and therefore subject to availability. Early booking is recommended.

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

      Arrival & Orientation

      Airport Pickup Included

      Volunteers arrive into Christchurch airport and are booked on the 2:15pm West Coast Shuttle to Greymouth where they are met by local team. 

      The local team will provide an orientation lasting around one hour using a visual presentation (DVD), with additional information provided by a presenter. Volunteers are also required to complete a Volunteer Registration Form at this point, including our local teams Conditions of Participation.

      The first weekend is free time for volunteers, though some travel may occasionally be required on Sunday if you are going to a very remote project location. Volunteers will be advised when their Team Leader will pick them up for the first project – usually 8am on Monday morning (times may vary slightly by season).

      Additional inductions take place on every project site, carried out by the onsite Team Leader, before the volunteers begin each activity. These cover the conservation aims of the specific project, how it will be carried out, including any instruction or training required for the volunteers, essential safety information, the facilities on-site and nearby.

      • Arrival Day: FRIDAY PRIOR TO 2PM
      • Departure Day: FRIDAY
      • Arrival Airport: Christchurch International Airport, Christchurch, New Zealand (code: CHC)

      Accommodation & Meals

      Volunteer House / Meals Included

      This program offers a range of accommodation options dependent on the project location. Volunteers may be hosted in a volunteer house, caravan, hostel, bunkhouse or camp site (tents are provided). A great way to experience the great outdoors!

      Accommodation is shared and volunteers should bring their own sleeping bag and small pillow. The program fee covers accommodation from the Friday of arrival until the Thursday preceding the final day volunteering. Volunteers should fly out Friday evening or arrange their own accommodation that night.

      All the usual amenities are available in each location including western-style bathrooms, laundry facilities (either on-site or nearby), kitchen, communal areas for relaxing and hot showers. Wi-Fi may not always be available in remote locations.

      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 419
      Program fee:
      Different currency?
      USD 419

      That’s just USD 60 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.