Gap Year: 6-month+ Service Learning Opportunities in New Zealand with United Planet

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United planet offers long-term volunteer opportunities to those planning a gap year down under! New Zealand is the ideal location for such a Quest. Among rich scenery and stunning beaches, there is plenty to do during your downtime! Volunteers typically stay with host-families, although alternative independent housing can be arranged in certain cases.

Long-term volunteering can provide a true immersion experience; participants have the chance to explore all that New Zealand has to offer while giving back to local communities by conducting a variety of community development projects. Projects include environmental preservation, community development projects, and farm work.

Travel Update: Costa Rica Now Open for Short-Term and Long-Term Programs

Costa Rica volunteer and intern abroad programs for selected ecological projects will be open for Short-Term and Long-Term Programs in mid-November 2020. We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in Costa Rica and working closely with the host organization to ensure the safety of our volunteers. For more information, head to our health and safety update page.

Questions & Answers


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Yes, I recommend this program

The 3 Kiwis

I work at McLaren Falls Park which is 20km from Tauranga, NZ in the Bay of Plenty. While each day is different I spend a couple of days each week cleaning toilets and BBQs. The other three days I am string trimming, mowing, maintaining walking tracks, picking up sticks, completing construction projects, and other general park maintenance tasks. Each morning I drive around and collect fees from the campers in the park. This is one of my favorite tasks as it allows me to meet people from all over the world. Since I work in a park I am learning about the native plants, trees, and birds of New Zealand as well as the challenges of combating exotic pests. Even though I work outside every day in all sorts of weather this allows me to experience and enjoy the many beautiful facets of the breathtaking nature that is New Zealand.
The environment is a major part of what makes New Zealand and my time here as a participant of the United Planet, ICYE, and ACVE programmes so incredible. The many lovely places I have visited by taking advantage of the excellently organized Department of Conservation tracks and visitor centres has definitely been one of the biggest highlights of my time here. In movies you see gorgeous vistas, but learn that the editors had to digitally remove a town or highway in the distance. In New Zealand such places of unimaginable beauty actual exist, no special effects required.
I am so grateful to United Planet, ICYE, and ACVE for existing and allowing me to have this awesome as experience in such an amazing place. During my time here I have learned so much, not only at work, but in my travels throughout the country. It has allowed me to see the world through a non-American focused lens. This has given me the gift of being able to more objectively see the unpleasant and great aspects of living in America. To understand big and little things that I take for granted and to put my worries into perspective; I am blessed.

What would you improve about this program?
As there was a pre-experience camp and informational weekend I would like there to be a post-experience one as well. On our three day weekend I met so many amazing people and while I have kept in touch with a few I would like to meet everyone again a learn how their 6/12 months went and what they learned and enjoyed/disliked about the country they lived in.
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Response from United Planet

Thank you, Katy, for your comments. Keep up your important work and soak in all the Kiwi beauty you can! If there are others from your group interested in getting together upon their return home, we are happy to coordinate this.