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Kiwi Conservation Volunteer & Internship Project, New Zealand

2 Weeks+ from

minimum age

  • Learn about the native forests and endangered kiwi birds of New Zealand
  • Gain experience in forest and bird conservation and monitoring techniques
  • Work alongside a team of international volunteers
  • Get close to nature in an off the grid wilderness environment

Volunteer holding kiwi bird New Zealand

About the Kiwi Conservation Project

This Nature Sanctuary is a privately owned native forest that is managed in cooperation with the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) and the local regional council. The sanctuary consists of protected Podocarpus forest that lies in a greater kiwi zone. The Kiwi is an endangered native bird and protecting its habitat is very important for its survival. The nature sanctuary is located away from the beaten path and it is suited for those interested in carrying out native forest volunteering in a remote, wilderness setting.

The sanctuary’s goal is to enable the creation of the right environment to sustain the ten pairs of kiwi currently living in the forest. The volunteer programme covers a range of conservation activities within the forest. The only way of maintaining this number of kiwi in the forest is by keeping predators at low levels, through extensive monitoring, and through forest protection.

Kiwi Conservation and Native Forest Volunteering in New Zealand

Kiwi conservation volunteers will be working in teams of up to eight volunteers with qualified and experienced leaders carrying out a variety of conservation-related tasks.

Work will focus on the completion of various conservation techniques that will be employed for the control and the monitoring of the pests that harm the kiwi and other native birds. These conservation techniques follow the best practices published by the Department of Conservation and will be employed within the sanctuary as well as in three other forests that are managed by the Department of Conservation.

Volunteer tasks will include:

  • Track maintenance –  clearing and widening of the trails
  • Bait station filling and monitoring
  • GPS trail mapping
  • Trapping
  • Small mammal monitoring
  • Kiwi monitoring
  • Kokako monitoring
  • Seedfall collection

Volunteer walking in New Zealand forest

The Nature Sanctuary is an unexplored forest and the volunteers will have the opportunity to be the first people in more than a generation to discover the plants and trees that have been growing in the last hundreds of years.

This conservation volunteer programme includes wilderness training and the possibility to spend a few nights in the middle of the forest. Participants will also have the opportunity to go on night safaris looking for kiwis and glow worms.

No previous experience of this work is necessary, as training will be provided by experienced leaders. The working day normally runs from 10 am to 4 pm with breaks for lunch and listening to nature around. However, please be prepared for some flexibility due to the changeable weather. Most of the workday will be spent outside walking in the forest, so a reasonable fitness level is required. Please note that the facilities at the Sanctuary are basic. They do, however, include dry cabin accommodation and comfortable hot showers.

“Our volunteers work in forests that cover an area of 2000 hectares and they contribute to the protection of a habitat that is home to more than 150 kiwi birds and to 100 kokako birds. These numbers start having a meaning when realizing that in New Zealand the total kiwi numbers decrease at 2% per year and that there are only 1600 kokako left in the world. Without the help provided by our volunteers, the extinction of these special birds would be even more rapid.” – Quote from Project Manager

Internship Positions in New Zealand

In addition to the main volunteer programme, we are also offering two internship positions as follows:

1. Forest Conservation Internship

Construction volunteers in nature sanctuary New ZealandThis internship builds upon the volunteering program and aims to provide the participants with a complete understanding of all the conservation techniques employed at the sanctuary. Participants will be trained and mentored such that they will be able to take charge of one area of activity (i.e. pest monitoring, track design and completion) or of all activities in one of the four forests in which we are operating. Ideally, the intern will become the leader of a volunteer team in charge of planning, preparation, health and safety, and training. To be able to reach that level of competence a minimum stay of 10 weeks is required. The minimum age is 20 and participants will be interviewed via Skype before being accepted into the programme.

As an intern, you will start by joining the kiwi conservation volunteers carrying out a variety of conservation-related tasks. You will receive extra training and you will have the opportunity to be involved in all conservation activities, all areas of the forest, and all other activities around the sanctuary. After about two weeks you will be able to start leading small teams of volunteers and start being involved in the planning and preparation activities of your team. After one month you will take charge of one conservation activity or one forest area and e responsible for the planning and completion of the required activities. Previous experience in a leadership role, be it at school or on a sports team will be beneficial to this role. Training will be provided by experienced leaders.

2. Hospitality Internship

Waterfall in forest New ZealandThis internship is an opportunity for a participant to gain experience in the end to end process of running a small hospitality operation. Join a nature sanctuary and learn how to manage an environmentally sustainable hospitality operation. Set in an undiscovered forest on the Kauri Coast, New Zealand, the sanctuary offers accommodation in suspended tree tents for visitors that are interested in spending one night in our forest. Since our focus is on conservation we keep the number of tree tents capped at 3 which means that we never have more than 6 guests.

You will also have the opportunity to join the conservation volunteers and help preserve the native forest and birds. There is a minimum eight-week commitment and the start dates are on the first Monday in December or the last Monday in January. These suspended tree tents fit the sanctuary’s sustainable and low impact philosophy. As an intern, you will receive the training required to understand the sustainability aspects that need to be considered when setting up an operation. You will also learn about the sanctuary through theory and practice thus being able to introduce the sanctuary and its activities to the guests.

After two weeks you would be able to understand all the sustainability aspects of the sanctuary (the use of rainwater, solar power, compost toilet, etc.) and you will be confident explaining the sanctuary’s conservation goals and activities. After four weeks you will be able to independently receive guests, take them on a forest tour, and prepare the tents for the next visitors. Our hospitality is a very small scale, an average of eight guests per week which makes it ideal for learning all aspects of it. You should be between 18 and 28 years old, fit, healthy, able to work on your own, and capable of carrying out work in all conditions in a cold and wet climate. the rest the same until uneven terrain. This internship will especially appeal to those with an interest in hospitality, off-grid living, conservation, wilderness, and exploration. Participants will be interviewed via Skype before being accepted into the programme. Internship tasks include:

  • Welcome guests and offer them an introduction to the sanctuary
  • Offer forest tours to guests
  • Prepare and clean-up tents
  • Prepare breakfast
  • Discover and prepare new tent sites
  • Participate in conservation activities
Kiwi Conservation Volunteer & Internship Project, New Zealand

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