6 Best New Zealand Volunteer Programs in 2018-2019

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When searching for the right volunteer abroad program, you find that some are in it for the wrong reasons, and some are truly in it for the people! When you hop on the volunteer abroad wagon, which program will YOU rely on, not only as an investment in your safety, convenience, and learning, but also as the organization you’ll look back on someday and think, “volunteering in New Zealand changed my life forever.” Even though New Zealand is one of the best volunteer destinations Worldwide in 2018, you have to take your volunteer abroad plans a step further and figure out who you’re going to volunteer with. 

woman standing on park bench looking out over Auckland

When you’re too stoked to volunteer in New Zealand.

You might not realize it, but choosing between programs in New Zealand Is a huge decision; I mean heck, you have the whole North and South Island! Since we’re on YOUR team, we wanted to make your decision process a little easier for you. Here are the best New Zealand volunteer abroad programs in 2018 according to our community of intrepid, meaningful travelers just like you.

What makes the “best” volunteer abroad programs in New Zealand?

Oh New Zealand. Land of large hills, hikes, hobbits, and of course, philanthropy. As you start to drill down and tune in more on all of your volunteer abroad program options you dig in New Zealand, there are a few key details you need to pay attention to in order to assess the quality of the experience. Yes, we know you are looking at reviews, ratings, and other fancy shmancy data; but you have to find the right program for YOU, not just another average Joe on the internet. (By the way, who is Joe?). Anyway, just like you would never dare give that Uber driver that you’ve never driven with five stars, so too might your needs, opinions, and goals vary from those who’ve left reviews of their volunteer abroad experiences.

Start digging through your closet of options (here’s how to actually pick a volunteer abroad program if you want a shortcut), and while doing so, pay attention to these factors:

  • What reviews and other alumni have to say their experiences. Again, your needs might not be theirs, but you can give some level of credibility to the “horse’s mouths.” Consider their feedback as you discern your options for volunteer abroad programs in New Zealand. 
  • Clarity and availability of information. If you have to hunt down basic program details, there might be something funky going on.
  • Organizational partnerships—most are partnered or work with other respected national, local, or international organizations. 
  • Resources for alumni, like how to put your experience on your resume!
  • Demonstrated respect and care for local culture, environment, individuals. You can get a feel for this in the photos and language they use to market themselves. 
  • Level of support and assistance. Do they email you back promptly? 
  • Respect within your area of interest. Consider a program that makes people that you look up to go “Well would ya look at that; wow!” 

GoAbroad’s 2018 round up

GoEco logo

1. GoEco - New Zealand Conservation Experience—10.0 Rating

“Together with the volunteers I had the opportunity to interact with community volunteers from NZ, the Park Rangers and most importantly the conservation experts from the Conversation Volunteers organization that arranged it all. The learning was immense the work fulfilling and at times demanding in a good way...Overall it was an experience I would highly recommend to people interested in the field of conservation and even those just interested to take a break and spend some time in nature.” — GoEco alum

  • Where?: Auckland, Christchurch
  • When?: Year Round
  • Why?: GoEco has been encouraging ecological and volunteer tourism that promotes sustainable development since its inception in 2005. They connect volunteers who are passionate wildlife, conservation, and global communities with the most suitable programs through careful screening. They select the best programs around the world, update the availability and timing of projects, validate the quality and reputation of projects, and help volunteers prepare for the trip. Plus who could say no to ecotours and trekking?
Carpe Diem logo

2. Carpe Diem Education - South Pacific Gap Year—10.0 Rating 

“Carpe Diem Education is an amazing program that has changed my life in so many amazing ways. I have been home for almost a year now and it is crazy how much I miss the everyday hustle and bustle of my Carpe trip. Every day was a new experience from waking up and milking cows to scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef. This program was a perfect balance between work and play.” — Carpe Diem Education alum

  • Where?: Rural Areas in New Zealand
  • When?: Year Round
  • Why?: Experiential education. Community. Intercultural exchange. It's how Carpe Diem Education connects with and gives back to the global communities we interact with. Live communally in an indigenous Maori community, learn to live on “Fiji time”, and hone your outdoor leadership skills during a week-long journey of kayaking, backpacking, and climbing in the famous Abel Tasman National Park.
Pacific Discovery logo

3. Pacific Discovery - New Zealand & Fiji Summer Program—10.0 Rating 

“We learned a great amount the places we traveled to and we got to do so many activities in a short amount of time. Before I went on the trip, I researched a lot of different travel companies and I have to say that Pacific Discovery has an impeccably organized itinerary compared to other groups. It's difficult to say in words how transformative this trip was for me, but it is an experience I would recommend to anyone and everyone. The people are wonderful and the places you get to go will leave you speechless.” — Pacific Discovery alum

  • Where?: Auckland, Nelson, Rotorua, South Island, Taupo, Wellington
  • When?: Summer
  • Why?: Immerse yourself in New Zealand and Fiji’s incredible environments and unique cultures. This one month summer program combines two weeks of hands-on and rewarding service-learning conservation work in some of the New Zealand’s most interesting national parks and reserves, and two weeks of adventurous travel as we road-trip through New Zealand and enjoy the spectacularly beautiful Yasawa Islands in Fiji. Adventure caving, hot springs, and hiking? Summer well spent I'd say!
Pupurangi logo

4. Pupu Rangi Nature Sanctuary - New Zealand Conservation Volunteer—10.0 Rating 

“This was one of the coolest experiences of my life...I developed immensely as a problem solver during my time here, and also partook in many thought provoking conversations. You will meet other volunteers from all over the world and learn their different cultures. The remoteness is mentally refreshing. At the camp you will be roughing it, but I found it very comfortable and invigorating. You will get to see some amazing sights around the Northland. And of course, you will work in an absolutely amazing new Zealand forest, with DOC experts, and you will get plenty of opportunities to see kiwi, some of the most rare and unique birds on the planet. You will be appreciated and you will develop as a person on this project.” — Pupu Rangi Nature Sanctuary alum

  • Where?: Rural Areas, Whangarei
  • When?: Year Round
  • Why?: The Pupu Rangi Nature Sanctuary is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the native flora and fauna in Northland, New Zealand. Our goal is to protect and extend a vibrant ecosystem while educating others on the importance of conservation. We view ourselves as partners with our volunteers, community, and the environment. Between November and April, we welcome volunteers who are interested in learning conservation and the New Zealand ecosystem. Scope out and see kiwi in the wild, explore the wilderness, discover yourself, and learn what it takes to protect an endangered species.
IVHQ logo

5. IVHQ - Volunteer in New Zealand—9.6 Rating 

“I was lucky enough to volunteer for 2 weeks with the coastline conservation project and 2 weeks with the native forest conservation project. I loved working on the boat and helping to clean the the shores and beaches to be a safer environment. I also really enjoyed working with the Maori and learning their culture and restoring the native land. I had such a wonderful experience on both projects!” — IVHQ alum

  • Where?: Auckland
  • When?: Year Round
  • Why?: IVHQ is the world's most trusted and affordable volunteer abroad organization with the largest range of top-rated programs. From childcare to conservation, you can volunteer in your area of interest, while experiences some amazing adventure on the way.
United Planet logo

6. United Planet - Volunteer in New Zealand—7.5 Rating 

“I am having an amazing experience volunteering in New Zealand. I am able to do volunteer work that correlates closely to my career field. It has provided me with work experiences that will be advantageous when applying for future jobs. UP provided great support as I was preparing for my volunteer experience” — United Planet alum

  • Where?: Christchurch, Tauranga, Wellington
  • When?: Programs begin in January and August
  • Why?: United Planet is an international non-profit organization with a mission—to create a global community, one relationship at a time. We connect volunteers who want to make a difference with communities. With everything from extreme mountains to coastal farmlands, volunteers here are in love with the landscape of this amazing island country. Because of its remote location, it was one of the last places on earth to be settled by humans. Learn, teach, work, engage, and immerse yourself in a culture outside your comfort zone.

[Did YOU Volunteer in New Zealand? Review Your Program Today!]

More resources for volunteering abroad in New Zealand

We’re hoping some of these programs already have you packing your hiking boots and sing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”! However, if you aren’t a Marvin Gaye fan or none of these programs are quite what you’re looking for, take a gander through our entire New Zealand volunteer abroad program directory. There are filters galore, allowing you to really hunt down the program that you’ve been daydreaming .

Road towards Mt Cook

All roads lead to volunteer work in New Zealand.

Overwhelmed by the options? We get it. Our Online Advisors are here to save the day. Just tell us what you’re looking for, and we’ll do your homework for you / send you a handful of specific recommendations to your preferences. 

Pro tip: One of the most important steps to figuring out which volunteer abroad programs in New Zealand are right for you—that many people unfortunately skip—is identifying your WHY(s). Why are you volunteering abroad? Why volunteer abroad in New Zealand in the first place? To learn and get more familiar with the culture, to travel far and wide, to make buddies from all over the world, to gain skills? Set goals, then use them to influence the New Zealand volunteer abroad programs you’re thinking .

And last but not least, MONEY! Sometimes you can find organizations where your work for them is enough and you don’t have to pay (other than the plane ticket that is). However, next time you ask yourself, “why do I have to PAY to volunteer?”, understand that the money you are giving is going towards a great cause and you are helping the organization keep working towards a better world. Donations and funding is important to a lot of NGO and non-profit organizations. So again, think back to identifying your WHY.

Now’s your chance! Volunteer abroad in New Zealand in 2018!

Gif, new zealand sheep 

No need to be so sheepish, volunteering in New Zealand is definitely something to brag . 

New Zealand is a country unlike any other. With the sandiest beaches, to the rockiest mountains, you can be a part of it! Choosing to volunteer, seek more knowledge in your area of interest, and help others around the world can only make your life that much brighter. So be Kiwi-ck (HA, get it like quick) and why wait? 2018 is your year! You will be amazed at what you can accomplish if you become a global citizen. 

Check Out More Volunteer Abroad Programs in New Zealand

Topic:  Top Picks