Volunteer Experience | Environmental & Wildlife

New Zealand: Off-grid Environmental Conservation

Kauri Coast, New Zealand


Location: Kauri Coast, New Zealand

Duration: Minimum 2 weeks commitment

Start Dates: Every first and third Monday between November and March, depending on availability

Cost: $1300 USD for the first two weeks + $330 for each week thereafter – see Costs tab for further details


  • Learn about New Zealand’s unique native flora and fauna and about the challenges of its protection
  • Learn various conservation and monitoring techniques and receive the training required to perform at a biodiversity ranger level
  • Participate and complete hands-on conservation work in different forests, each with its unique characteristics
  • Have the opportunity to see endangered species in the wild and explore areas closed to the general public
  • Learn about sustainability and about living off-grid
  • Have the opportunity to engage in self-discovery through the experience of immersing in a remote forest setting
  • Visit some of the attractions of the Kauri Coast, be it a trip to the lakes or a visit to a 2000 year-old tree
  • Keywords: Conservation, Sustainability, Discovery, Off-grid
Costs Explained


This Sanctuary is a non-profit organization located in the cloud-forest of Tutamoe Peak in Northland, New Zealand. The area is home to the endangered kiwi bird and to the rare giant kauri snail.Locals and volunteers are working together to protect this lush forest and to restore it to its natural splendor. The organization is built on sustainable principles and it is totally off-grid with most of the structures and tools having been recycled from other projects.

Working with the Department of Conservation, we are also able to protect and monitor the precious wildlife in a number of other forests each having its unique characteristics. Our volunteers perform a wide range of these activities, creating access trails, protecting native species from invasive rats, possums, and stoats, planting native trees, monitoring the pest numbers, and building an environment that will continue to be home to the endangered Kiwi and Kokako birds. This project not only gives you a chance to actively restore protected natural ecosystems, but it also creates an everlasting experience for all who are involved.

Daily Life

Volunteering at the sanctuary will challenge your mind, body and soul. Not only will you learn a great amount about conservation and sustainability practices, but you will also be involved in the execution of the sanctuary’s daily maintenance tasks and activities.

You’ll be getting your hands dirty with activities like:

  • cutting and marking tracks,
  • installing, refilling and monitoring bait stations,
  • monitoring kiwi, kokako, and rodents,
  • monitoring bats, lizards, and fresh water fish,
  • entering data,
  • weeding and planting the herb garden,
  • building & landscaping
  • chopping wood and much, much more.

No volunteer experience is the same and you never know what exciting tasks will come up while you’re here! We try to balance the maintenance and sustainability activities so everyone gets a well-rounded stay. We appreciate every hour our volunteers put in because without you, this initiative would not be possible.

Each day allows for leisure activities and self-discovery, too- so we’re not all work and no play. Typically, your day is going to look something like this:

8 am – 9 am Breakfast
9 am – 9:30 am Clean-up
10 am – 12 pm Morning work activities
12 pm – 1 pm Lunch (indoors or picnic-style)
1 pm – 4 pm Afternoon working activities
4 pm – 6 pm Free time/ leisure time
6 pm – 8 pm Dinner
8 pm – 10 pm Leisure activities- sunset watching, soccer, dusk bird chorus

Monday are free days when you can relax, maybe head into town to use the internet. Once a week we will head explore some of the sights of the Kauri Coast and on return go on a night safari looking for kiwi in the forest.

Weather will always be a contributing factor to the days activities, so we need adaptable volunteers with can-do attitudes! There will also be plenty of time to explore the gorgeous surrounding areas of our little nook of New Zealand.

Book with Confidence

Travel & Accommodation

By bus: If you do not have a car, you will need to travel to Auckland and then catch an early bus to Whangarei. The buses available are either Intercity or Skip. You will then travel from Whangarei to Dargaville, where we will pick you up at 5:30 p.m. on Monday. We will also arrange for you to get back to Dargaville the Monday of your departure in time for the 7a.m. returning bus.

By Car: If you drive yourself, we meet in the Dargaville Countdown car park on Monday at 6pm

Volunteers will live among nature in an off the grid, ecologically friendly camp. The common structures of the camp (kitchen, showers, dining room) are made from recycled shipping containers. They do not have electricity or running water (except on occasions where generator will be turned on for a short time for hot showers).

The accommodation for volunteers consists of a small cabin with two bunk beds each (men and women have separate cabins), or you can upgrade to an incredible tree tent for a small fee. We only host up to 8 volunteers at a time to ensure enough space for all.

There is no wifi available for use as we do not have electricity. Phone signal for internet and calls is generally strong in the common areas for these providers: Telecom, Vodafone, Skinny, and 2degrees. There is no connection in the forest (and we like it that way).

Most dietary restrictions can be catered to if we are notified before you come. We drink filtered rain water, eat herbs from our own garden, and have mostly organic meat, cheese and butter that will be made by you. Feel free to bring any additional snacks or special foods yourself, but only goods that do not need refrigeration.

Alcohol and smoking
The possession and consumption of alcohol is not permitted within the sanctuary.

Smoking is allowed in one area only and you will need to provide proof of fire insurance (minimum NZD 5 million) before being allowed to smoke. We would like to protect our forest and in such a remote area firefighting costs are very high.

Fundraising Help


  • Minimum age is 20 for Male and 18 for Female participants
  • We need able-bodied, healthy volunteers who can live and work in primitive camping settings. You should be able to walk 10km a day
  • Due to the high energy required to participate in our program, we are unable to accommodate those on a vegan diet.
  • Due to the risk of fire to the forest, we are not able to host participants that smoke.
  • Minimum commitment is 2 weeks
  • No previous experience necessary, just a strong desire to work in nature
  • Full medical insurance
  • Liability insurance (minimum $5000)
  • Strong teamwork skills
  • Clothes for rainy/chilly weather (even in the summer)
  • Warm sleeping bag and gumboots (also known as rubber boots or Wellingtons)
  • Please bring a supply of any necessary medications that will cover your entire stay. The nearest medical clinic is 50 km away.
  • Necessary vaccinations
  • Necessary flights & visas (most nationalities will be fine with a tourist visa).
Premium Support Upgrade


$1300 USD for the first two weeks + $330 for each week thereafter 

What’s Included:

Accommodation, meals, training, night safari, sightseeing activities, and pick up from Dargaville (the closest town).

What’s not included:

Flights, snacks, insurance, visas (if applicable), airport pickup/drop off and vaccinations. Full assistance will be provided in getting all these arranged if you choose our Premium Support.

Premium Support Upgrade

We understand there’s a great deal to plan and organise for your trip. When booking a Placement, many of our participants choose to purchase our Premium Support Upgrade to benefit from the expertise, knowledge and experience of our Project Coordinators.

We can provide the personal advice you need to ensure your trip is organised with excellence and planned with efficiency; ensuring the very best experience possible. Read more about how we can help you.

New Zealand

Note: Map coordinates are approximate