ISV - Volunteer Projects in New Zealand

By ISV   Reviews (34)   97% Rating

As a volunteer in New Zealand with International Student Volunteers (ISV), you have the opportunity to protect and rehabilitate some of the most remarkable landscapes on Earth. ISV partners with local conservation organizations including government and non-government, private reserves, farms and grassroots community groups, to directly benefit rare and endangered New Zealand species. Volunteer assistance is essential to ensure the health and survival of native ecosystems in this country.

Specific tasks involve reforestation initiatives, reintroducing endangered bird species, weed removal, planting trees, learning from the native Maori, limestone cave restoration, and pioneer mining. You could be placed on either the North or South island of New Zealand, and all projects with ISV highlight and increase accessibility to beautiful natural environments for future generations. For more details on how to make a difference to this green nation visit ISV's website today.

View Program Information
Location: 
  • New ZealandAuckland
Volunteer Types: 
Program Length: 
2-4 weeks
Cost: 
$2,000 - $5,000 (USD)
Age Group: 
14-18
Languages: 
English
Housing: 
Camping
Guest House
Hostels
Hotels
Volunteer House
Application: 
Online Application
Age Requirement
Health Requirement

Program Reviews (34)

97%
Positive
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  • Impact
    95%
  • Support
    96%
  • Fun
    97%
  • Value
    96%
  • Safety
    97%
  • Katherine
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Mankato, Minnesota
    Minnesota State University
    You Will Change the World
    08/23/2015

    Going to New Zealand through International Student Volunteers was an experience like no other. I was able to work for two weeks on what I considered to be my own private island (because other than the people in my group, no other mammals were on the island). Each day we worked to improve the habitat for the endangered kiwi bird. We would collect, propagate, and plant native flora. I really felt like I could see my impact since we were able to contribute to every step of reforestation. Although there was a lot of hiking (or tramping as they might say in NZ) there is work that can be done for practically any fitness level. No foreign language skills are required, and I felt super safe throughout my time abroad making this volunteer trip perfect for any first time travelers (although I would recommend it to experienced travelers too because the scenic views are unbeatable!)

    Furthermore, after the first two weeks of volunteering ISV offered a tour through New Zealand for the next two weeks. I did things I never would have dreamed of doing anywhere else. Some of my adventures included white water rafting, bungy jumping, Ogo ball riding, and, my personal favorite, black water rafting through glow worm caves!

    All in all, I felt like I made a meaningful impact on the world when I traveled to New Zealand through ISV and I would recommend it to anyone who has an itch to travel.

    How could this program be improved?

    It is a very costly project. Planes rides over seas are expensive and fundraising can be pretty challenging. Honestly I want college to be cheaper so students can have more money to travel.

    Photos:
    View of the beach on Motuihe Island during the volunteer portion
    Beautiful views during the adventure portion
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  • Kristen
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    East Lansing, Michigan
    Michigan State University
    Relearning to Live
    08/14/2015

    This isn't just a "live it to the fullest" trip, it's a journey to wake the soul, mind, and body. We do more than work. We live, breathe, and learn to live within the means that mother nature provides. Through giving back to the planet we reinstate it's beautiful diversity and promote sustainability. We are nothing without this world and each other.

    I had the privilege to get to really know 8 other unique people with their own stories and learn from them. During this once and a lifetime experience, I have gained life long friends and cherished memories.

    This was the best month of my life in all aspects ranging from feeling good about my contributions for nature to experiencing awesome adrenaline rushes from bungee jumping to learning about a new culture and it's peoples. You cannot go wrong with a journey like this. I have a new fire in my soul to continue to live in ways this trip has taught me.

    This experience offers a little something for everyone! Adventure, education, hiking, kayaking, reading, bar crawls, shopping, meeting new people, exploring caves lit up by glow worms, bungee jumping, visiting Hobbiton, and so much more! Every turn learns you in complete awe.

    How could this program be improved?

    No suggestions. No program is perfect but since I had no expectations I didn't have any disappointments. If I wasn't satisfied with a certain meal, I would just go buy something else. The program excelled at keeping us safe, fed, and "in the know."

    Photos:
    There is nothing that doesn't take your breath away in New Zealand.
    Miraculous view during our road trip.
    Me and the Maori men putting on our "war" faces!
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  • Lee
    Male
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    North Carolina State University
    Making the Connection
    07/31/2015

    Being in the United States, it is very easy to move about life without thing of our impact in the world. This program really opens the eyes of the participants about the "real world" and focuses on a learning perspective instead of just a "vacation" in which you can also impact the world. Coming from different majors of Engineering to Biology to English, everyone on the journey learn the true value in protecting this world and having sustainable fun. When I returned home, I have seen the impacts of this journey in practically everything I do, from buying groceries, to enjoying entertainment. ISV impacts the student and volunteers in a great way, supplying both knowledge and fun.

    How could this program be improved?

    The program itself does not need improvement. What does need improvement is the price and how it is advertised. The poster price is only about half of the entire cost; it does not include plain tickets, spending money, money needed to get food in the host country, and required insurance. Also, ISV advertises an "Optional Activity Package" which has everything the participants want to do on the trip. And this is about an extra $350. So the trip is much more than the poster price. There are way too many hidden fees.

    Video:
    Highlights and Photos from New Zealand 2015!
    Highlights and Photos from New Zealand 2015!
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  • Robbie
    Male
    Atlanta, GA
    University of Florida
    Experience of a lifetime
    07/24/2015

    I spent four weeks over the summer in New Zealand traveling the North and South islands with 27 of my peers. While the second half of the trip (adventure tour) was more exciting and fun, the first two weeks spent volunteering on Motuihe Island with only 8 of us had a much stronger impact on me. The volunteer portion of my ISV experience gave me new perspectives on many environmental topics including ecosystem restoration and sustainable living. My project leader was also very knowledgeable; he taught us all about contemporary world problems and gave us different point of views through deep debate and discussion.

    With little to no cell phone coverage, the 8 of us got to know each other very quickly. Through the volunteer work and free time spent on the island, within days, we all became so closely-knit as a group of friends. I am so happy I decided to go to New Zealand. If it wasn't for ISV, I would have never met these 7 kids which I can now call some of my best friends.

    The adventure tour was incredible. Wether you're a thrill seeker or you just want to relax, New Zealand has it all. The country is filled with countless beautiful landscapes from mountains to beaches and everything in between. The blackwater caves of Waitamo (glow worm caves) might be the most interesting place I have ever visited.

    I highly recommend New Zealand as the site of your volunteering and adventure. I made lifelong friendships while exploring some of the most beautiful cities in the world. And the drinks taste great!

    How could this program be improved?

    The food on the island during the first two weeks was limited. However, our project was the first of many more and I have no doubt that ISV will fix this small issue to accommodate everyone.

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  • Sarah
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    San Jose, CA
    San Jose State University
    The Experience of a Lifetime!
    11/11/2014

    Traveling to New Zealand to volunteer was personally rewarding in so many ways. I was introduced to a new country and culture as well as a group of new people that I not only worked with, but also lived alongside for an entire month. Learning and understanding a different way of life, set of values, and challenges helped me to understand more of my own values and priorities. One of the most humbling realizations while traveling in a new country was seeing how similar people are even from different backgrounds, upbringings, socioeconomic status, etc. Aside from volunteering, traveling and experiencing the country was amazing! New Zealand is a beautiful country with much to offer.

    How could this program be improved?

    The program could have been improved by offering recognition to the individuals in the group that really worked hard (like they are supposed to) during the volunteer project. Many of the individuals seemed like they just signed up to travel to a new country and party, whereas some people to the volunteer work seriously.

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  • Jessica
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Los Angeles, California
    California State University
    Bucket list MUST!
    11/11/2014

    I am from Los Angeles, California and first heard about ISV through my school at Cal State Northridge. I applied and went to New Zealand June 2011 for two weeks. At New Zealand it was winter time and there were about 30-40 international students that went to the program most that were from the states. The two weeks consisted of environmental sustainability volunteer work and there was heavy labor. I enjoyed it mostly because I learned alot about the different species of plants and animals. We also went to a local elementary school and community center to interact more with the community. What I loved was getting to know the indigenous people Maori and their culture.In my group there were alot of 2 week students and our program leader Daryl went out of his way to show us some awesome places around New Zealand to get our money worth. Upon departure we couldn't leave the island due to the cancellation of flights since there was some smoke from a Chile volcano eruption. What was great about having traveler insurance was that we got to stay at the five star hotel next to the airport and it was nice that the program leaders made sure we were settled in our rooms. I stayed an extra 3 days and visited the city of Auckland at my stay.

    If I could go to another ISV trip for four weeks I would definitely go! Some other students that I went to the trip have traveled alot in other organizations like this one and would comment how this program is the best one. I am thankful for the experience and will forever remember this amazing trip.

    How could this program be improved?

    There was some misunderstanding between our staff leaders and community members in terms of what were going to do for volunteer work. We expected to spend the entire day at the beach cleaning up with local school children but only did some of the work due to the misunderstanding. I would also comment on the food that was provided was very basic but a bit more variety would be nice. I would buy some snacks for myself to bring in more variety of food.

    Photos:
    Working on making hiking trails. This was to help avoid locals destroy the bush/forest when riding their motorcycles or hiking for fun by providing them some trails to stay on.
    Cathedral Cove. If you watched Lord of the Rings this place may look familiar. On our way to our volunteer destination we took this detour for a mini adventure.
    The Maori temple we visited. We had the opportunity to get to stay for a night and learned alot about the Maori culture and history.
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  • Kevin
    Age: 25-30
    Male
    Austin Texas
    Texas Tech University
    Great adventure that set me up for many world travels
    11/10/2014

    This was my first step into international travel and 7 years later I still talk about this trip with frequency. This opened me up to trying new experiences on my own. This past summer I spent two months working in Asia and without the ISV trip I'm not sure I would have had the ambition to pursue that opportunity. Great people great fun would recommend to anyone that can afford it.

    How could this program be improved?

    I would have skipped Fiji and stayed with my volunteer group for another week if I could that is how well we got along.

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  • Hannah
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    United States
    University of California- Santa Cruz
    New Zealand Conservation - "Sweet As"
    11/09/2014

    Planting native rain forest species on remote Motuihe Island with spectacular views of Auckland by day. Sharing card games, life stories, meals and conservation theories with 7 incredible people from around the world by night. This rustic immersion into the New Zealand native rain forest left me inspired to change my college degree, and 7 years later it leaves a sweet taste in my mouth.

    How could this program be improved?

    It really could not have been changed. The volunteer work and the adventure tout were fantastic!

    Photos:
    The Motuihe Crew on a planting day.
    Karo, we planted hundreds of these on "our" part of the island we named "Pukeko Point"
    During the adventure travel Tara, Niki and I swung over a field of sheep, such an "extreme" Kiwi thing to do!
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  • Kat
    Age: 31-50
    Female
    United States
    California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
    Had the time of my life
    11/08/2014

    I am glad I had chosen to do this program, even though it was many years ago, since July 2008. But looking back at the entire experience, even many moons later, I am glad I still keep in touch with these friends, friends that even come to visit me, or friends that I keep in touch with Facebook still. IT'S a reminder how small our globe is, and that we all share this beautiful planet. Doing the volunteering work and getting our hands dirty, allows for our own self-development for projects that I am still proud about. That balanced with a ton of fun such as bungee jumping, wine-tasting, horseback riding LOTR trails, ziplining the worm caves in Watomoa Black River rafting, and Zorbing! That was just half of the stuff I did. But making the connections, talking about my experiece, I excite fellow travelers and fellow dreamers that this is made possible by such programs, with a non-profit status. I had a lot of doctors, nurses and engineers helping me out then. It wouldn't have been made possible without a community for these opportunities to materialize. But if you put your mind to it, anything can come true. I'm glad I was able to volunteer. I've heard other programs that were just party buses destroyed ambassordorships and trashed the environment. I am glad I was not part of that business. I am glad I was supporting and participating in programs that was sustainable, eco-friendly and community building. There was so much cultural exchange between my group and the Maori at the morae, I am proud to say. We all learned so much!

    How could this program be improved?

    If there was real chicken soup, I wish it were more available. Catching a cold during this period was a bummer.

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  • Morgan
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Yuma, AZ
    Oklahoma State University
    Absolutely mind-blowing
    11/07/2014

    To say the very least, my experiences in New Zealand with ISV absolutely changed my life. The two weeks of volunteer work were difficult, but ever so rewarding. We learned about the delicate ecosystem in NZ and how it's balance affected the local Maori people. We were exposed to the culture and tradition of both the Maori and European Kiwis. We taught school children about our homelands and helped to shape a positive image of foreigners abroad. All of that, plus the two week, high octane, adventure tour, where I thoroughly conquered any fear of heights I might have had, and lived my life to the absolute fullest. Cap it all off with a five day stay in Fiji to unwind, and the adventure was pretty much perfection. Seven years later, and after many other adventures abroad, I know that I'll never be able to top my time with ISV. The people I met are still my friends and the places I saw are engraved in my memory forever. New Zealand is truly the most beautiful place on Earth, and it was an honor to help it stay that way.

    How could this program be improved?

    Communication with my fellow travelers before the tour would have helped.

    Photos:
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  • Amanda
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    San Diego, California
    California State University
    Best Trip Ever!!
    11/07/2014

    I went to New Zealand in the summer of 2012, and it honestly has been the best experience of my life! I grew so much during my stay in New Zealand. I made life long friends, and after two years we still keep in contact,even though we are in different countries. The experiences from this trip have sparked a sense of wonder that fuels my everyday life, and showed me how to seize the moment and live fully. I wouldn't change anything that happened, and I can't wait to travel again!

    How could this program be improved?

    have more meals covered in the trip.

    Photos:
    Mountains of Queenstown, New Zealand
    Ice Bar
    Writing on a Restaurant's Wall
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  • Eric
    Age: 25-30
    Male
    Seattle, WA
    Best time ever
    11/07/2014

    I went on a month long adventure in New Zealand, and it honestly was the best time of my life. I really felt like I made a difference, and I had a ton of fun. The group I was with and the event leaders made it a truely memorable and rewarding experience.

    How could this program be improved?

    If I had to change one thing it would be the provided meals, they left a bit to be desired...

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  • Neema
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    United States
    University of North Florida
    A place where eleven people left their heart and soul
    11/07/2014

    Eight years ago I ventured to New Zealand with the International Student Volunteers (ISV) to volunteer in conservation work and explore. There I met incredible people who shared a four week journey through New Zealand. In the picturesque town of Kaikoura where the Southern Alps meet the Pacific Ocean we planted trees, cleared gorse ( a horrible invasive plant), and laid new trails among other activities. In no time at all we became a family cooking meals, telling stories, and learning about the small town we called home. In addition to working hard we also had the opportunities to swim with dolphins, sky dive, tube through caves, kayak, and white water rafting as we traveled from North Island to South Island. In a matter of weeks my new friends and I created a bond which I will never forget. A wonderful experience with my fellow volunteers that we even eight years later we still reminisce about digging holes in the freezing rain and walking down to McDonalds for 50 cent ice cream.

    How could this program be improved?

    The program was eight years ago and I can't recall anything that could have made the experience better.

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  • Shefali
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Montreal
    McGill University
    Fell In Love With New Zealand
    11/07/2014

    My experience with ISV was amazing, the fun activities I did in one month does compare to anything I had previously taken on. I've had itchy feet since and want to travel some more.

    Through ISV I got to see major tourist attractions from Queenstown to Auckland. I went spelunking in dark caves, kayaked with baby seals, did the 3rd highest bungy jump in the world, saw crystal clear water near the Remarkables (mountains in LOTR!), climbed a glacier next to a rainforest, enjoyed geothermal mud baths, and the list goes on..

    I was lucky enough to be at an excellent volunteer location. We were 10 people on a secluded island doing conservation work. It was very refreshing and I absolutely loved the outdoors!

    The staff was very friendly, helpful, and looked out very well for our safety.

    I do not regret a single second of my trip which has thus far been a trip of a lifetime!

    ISV itself is a very flexible organisation; my emails were promptly replied and reasonable requests were indulged.

    How could this program be improved?

    Perhaps make some of the extra attraction (and costs) known prior to the trip so financial arrangements could be made.

    For example, I wanted to see Milford Sounds and do sky diving, but was short of cash. Would have brought more money with me had I known.

    Photos:
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  • Trina
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Calgary, Alberta
    University of Calgary
    Phenomenal in Every Way
    10/23/2014

    There is so much to be said for travelling to a new country and experiencing another culture. To immerse oneself in another way of life expands your views on life as well as provides the opportunity to make life-long friends.

    When people think of travelling to new and exciting destinations I don't think they often count volunteer missions among their travel options. In New Zealand in winter it was often difficult, cold, and wet work but the reward of being able to make a difference and experience life exactly as the Kiwi people live it was a phenomenal gift. There is no better way to familiarize yourself with a culture.

    For my project I was located in the small village of Punakaiki on the west coast of the south island home to the world famous Pancake Rocks. The scenery here is so stunningly beautiful that it is impossible to put into words. For the first two weeks of our trip our small group of volunteers worked at an abandoned open mine site to restore the natural vegetation and remove and invasive species. Every day was an incredible adventure seeing local species of plants and animals, learning about the history of the area, getting to know the locals (especially at the pub!), traversing through the dense bush having sunset fires on the beach, exploring local forests, walking paths, and caverns. But more than that, knowing that I was actively making a difference to preserve such a wonderful and beautiful place.

    The following two weeks of adventure travel were entirely mind-blowing. Skydiving, black water rafting, zorbing, Lord of the Rings tours, pub crawls, local museums, basking in geothermal springs... So many wonderful experiences with amazing people that it can't really even be described.

    I would recommend this trip to anyone who loves adventure, amazing people, beautiful scenery, incredible history, and making a difference in the natural world.
    I truly can't wait until the day I get to return to New Zealand.

    How could this program be improved?

    If I had to change one thing I would have ISV send out a packing list specific to each destination as well as each project. There were many things I brought off the general list that I never used and just took up space.

    Photos:
    Pancake Rocks, Punkaiki
    Overlooking a bay in Abel Tasman National Park
    Skydiving on the south island
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About the provider

ISV's mission is to support sustainable development programs around the world through life changing student volunteer programs designed to positively impact our world and to educate, inspire and result in more active global citizens.

Destinations include South Africa, Costa Rica, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and the Dominican Republic. ISV has won multiple awards and over 30,000 participants from around the world have experienced their educational, cultural and adventure programs. Volunteers can join small teams for two-week projects in the field of conservation or community development, followed by a two week adventure tour. Many students earn academic credit for their involvement and highly qualified local staff carefully oversee programs in each country. ISV is recognized as one of the highest rated volunteer and travel organizations in the world and is a non-profit organization in California, USA. Its Australian operations are based in Sydney. Begin your ISV adventure today!