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You are thinking of coming to New Zealand attracted by the amazing landscapes, never-ending beaches, blue skies, soaring mountains, and green forests. You like nature and seek respite from the crowded city. You sometimes wonder what simple life is like, living off the grid, maybe? You want to do something meaningful with your hands and see the result of your work.

You should come and join us!

The Pupu Rangi Nature Sanctuary welcomes you to this place of learning: about the forest and its creatures, about conservation, and most importantly about yourself. You will be challenged on many fronts: living off-the-grid, working in a dense jungle-like forest, having to change your perceptions about the things that we take for granted. You will also experience something that is rare these days: the expanse of an un-explored forest which you and your fellow volunteers will help preserve.

If you want to joint the team of volunteers, no prior experience is required, you just need the courage to face the rain, mud, wind, and physical work.

In our view, volunteering is a way of learning. We have done it too, and each time we’ve learned many of the skills that helped us at some point in our lives. It seems that volunteering – regardless of the type of activity – is a catalyst for learning more about ourselves and about the world that surrounds us.

While at the sanctuary you will have the opportunity to learn about different aspects of life (living in tune with nature, discovering what is really important to you, what other cultures value most), get some practical skills (planning, setting priorities, using creativity to find solutions within the available means), learn about New Zealand nature and the different ways to protect it, understand what it takes to live in a sustainable way, and explore the attractions in the surrounding region. Body and mind will both be exercised and enriched.

This program has two components: the conservation work that we do in the forest and the manual work that we do around the sanctuary.

The conservation tasks that we perform in our sanctuary and on the behalf of the Department of Conservation are performed at a professional level, and you will receive the instruction necessary to reach the required high standard.

You will also attend a training course that will explain the reasons behind our conservation work and the methods that we use to achieve our goals. You will learn about health and safety in the forest and about looking for your workmates.

Throughout your stay you will learn and practice the basic navigational skills and tools required to operate in the dense forest. While working with us, you will realize the vast amount of work that happens behind the scenes to ensure that a New Zealand forest stays healthy. You will also learn the meaning of sustainability through observation and practice.

Some of the tasks that you will complete are:

  • cutting and marking tracks
  • installing, refilling, and monitoring bait stations
  • installing and monitoring traps
  • seed collection
  • weed control and planting of native plants
  • data entry

The manual work part of the program refers mostly to the activities that we have to perform to maintain and enhance the living area. It is most likely that most of the tasks that you will have to perform will be new to you. We will train you and you will use your creativity and previous skills to find ways of completing the tasks.

Tasks include:

weed and plant the herb garden
building maintenance tasks (i.e. painting walls, setting up walls)
general help around the place
Previous volunteers helped us paint the accommodation buildings, start a herb garden, pave a patio area, and build an outdoor bath.

Every month, week, and day has its own target tasks to complete be it monitoring, track cutting, or some facility improvement. In general, we aim to find a balance between the conservation and maintenance tasks.

Each morning, depending on the weather, we will clarify which tasks will be performed for the day. As a rule of thumb: if it is windy, we go in the forest (where there is protection and warmth), if it is calm, we stay in the living area. We always work in a group for safety and for the pleasure of each other’s company.

A typical day’s schedule looks similar to the one below:

8am – 9am breakfast
9am – 9:30am communal area clean-up
10am – 12pm morning working activity
12pm – 1pm lunch/picnic
1pm – 4pm afternoon working activity
4pm – 6pm leisure activities (free time)
6pm – 8pm dinner
8pm – 10pm leisure activities  (sunset watching, soccer, dusk bird chorus)

During your stay, you may have the opportunity to participate in some sightseeing activities such as going swimming at the Kai Iwi lakes or going for a night safari in the Trounson Kauri Park. We believe that it is important for each volunteer to see the extent of their contribution in the wider context of the Kauri Coast region. We are also proud of the beauty of this land and it will be our pleasure to share it with you.

To ensure a pleasant experience and a close interaction, we host a maximum of eight volunteers at a time. Due to the introductory training required to work in the sanctuary the volunteers participate in a fixed length placement programs. This way everyone starts at the same time and goes at the same pace.

Basic accommodation (bunk beds in a small hut) and delicious food is provided to all of our volunteers.

Time Commitment

Up to 3 weeks

Day(s) of the week:

Time of the day:
All day

Skills needed

  • good fitness level - must be able to walk 10km a day
  • good level of English
  • courage to face the rain, cold, mud, and to live off grid

What's included

accommodation, delicious meals, training, night safaris, sightseeing trips around the region and transfers to/from the closest city (Dargaville)

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