"I feel so lucky to have had these close interactions with the kiwi birds"
Laura McClintock from Canada
I had an absolutely wonderful time in New Zealand! My two months spent volunteering at the Nature Sanctuary were more fulfilling than anything I could have possibly imagined. I loved the conservation work and the amount of time spent in the forest. As well, during my time volunteering, we were fortunate enough to develop a strong relationship with Trounson Kauri Park, run by the Department of Conservation. At Trounson we had the rare experience of helping the park rangers in their kiwi monitoring surveys, and monthly kiwi banding duties. I feel so lucky to have had these close interactions with the kiwi birds, as I know I would not have had these experiences if it weren’t for the ongoing hard work of Octavian, and his volunteers.
The Nature Sanctuary is a very special place, that attracts like-minded people from all corners of the world. Octavian inspires volunteers through his dedication to forest conservation, and encourages volunteers to challenge themselves and share their skills and talents with the team. Volunteering at the Sanctuary was a perfect post-university trip for me, and opened my eyes to alternative ways of living, the importance of conservation, and the beauty of New Zealand.
Thanks again for all your help in making sure my trip would go smoothly. I’d definitely organize future volunteer projects through working abroad!
"The amount you learn about New Zealand’s ecosystem is top notch"
Ceri Thomas from Wales
I have volunteered at many projects and managed my own but this is a project like no other. The amount you learn about New Zealand’s ecosystem is top notch. The things you learn about yourself is even better. I felt really involved and valued. The community feel makes you feel welcome. The camaraderie is unbeatable. As is the setting. For proper volunteers who want to rough it and work, and see some amazing places you couldn’t see any other way. Two weeks is nowhere near enough.
"I really enjoyed the work we did in the forest as you could see directly how this would benefit the native birds"
Kate Whitley, joined the project for 2 weeks
I was involved in refilling bait stations for pest control, track maintenance, along with some basic construction work (helping assemble a small shed) and work around the facilities. The programme was explained to the group beforehand. We were thoroughly briefed on safety in the forest and how to find our way around the forest (we were all issued walkie-talkies and GPS). We were provided with gloves and boots and worked together as a group (with a tail-end charlie when walking in the dense forest). The staff were knowledgeable and didn’t push anyone beyond their comfort zone which I liked. They took great care to explain why we were doing the various activities and how this would benefit the forest and native animals.
Clear instructions were given as to how to get to the transit/pickup point from the airport. A staff member was waiting for us at the pickup point to take us to the nature reserve, where we were shown around and given time to settle in. The first day involved a comprehensive session on the purpose of the project, what the activities would involve and when we would have time for rest/relaxation. Hazards were identified and explained and the emergency procedures outlined. I thought the staff seemed very interested in ensuring the well-being of the group and also making sure we enjoyed the experience.
The highlights for me were the group camaraderie, especially in the evenings when we all helped to prepare meals. I really enjoyed the work we did in the forest as you could see directly how this would benefit the native birds and other creatures. I also liked the trips to the local attractions (the large Kauri tree, the night Kiwi walk and the beautiful Ka Iwi lakes).
The accommodation is simple but comfortable. The sleeping areas consist of bunks in a cabin. Everyone has fresh linen and it was warm and clean. The kitchen area could have done with a few more chairs but we indicated this to the hosts so they may have changed this. The food was good – great barbeques when the weather was good. We all helped with the food preparation which was fun and a nice way to mingle with the other volunteers. The packed lunches for the work in the forest were very good. One of the best features are the hot showers which are in a converted shipping container. It was great to have a hot shower after a days’ work.
I would definitely recommend this to other volunteers. We experienced life in a remote spot without electricity (which was a nice break from technology!), and I felt that we were doing something that would really make a difference.
"I would absolutely recommend this project to other volunteers, it was a great experience"
Radu Popovici, joined the project for 1 week
While I was at the project I was involved with clearing a path in the bush and placing bait stations for possum control, as well as a bit of fencing work.
I felt the project was very well organised, we had a clear plan of what we wanted to achieve during each day of our stay. At the beginning of the week we had a very good presentation about the site, together with information about conservation programs in NZ and also safety when working in the bush.
Despite the sanctuary being in a quite remote area, I had no problems getting there, driving instructions were quite clear. Also during the time I was there we used GPS and markers while working in the bush. We were also provided walkie-talkies for everyone which made communication between smaller groups spread out in the bush very easy.
I learned a lot about native NZ bush and wildlife, I felt like my work there was important (pest control program), and there were some very special places to visit nearby (kai iwi lakes and the ancient kauri forest…awesome!!!)
There are a couple of cabins for accommodation and a big mess tent with hammocks for when you want to relax/chill out. Hot showers were also available. Food was prepared by our volunteer coordinator and it was great, there is a BBQ available (we even had fresh smoked NZ snapper one dinner!).
I would absolutely recommend this project to other volunteers, it was a great experience for me.