The Auckland region is on New Zealand's North Island, named for its bustling metropolitan major city, and home to one third of the country's entire population. It offers something for everyone: the world's largest Polynesian city as well as rural areas and islands rich in wildlife.
There is a wide variety of work volunteers can find in Auckland, depending on their interests and skills. You can either arrange volunteer work independently by researching and contacting the organizations yourself or by signing up for a group program.Photo credits: xiquinhosilva.
Agrotourism is a very popular volunteer activity in New Zealand, as it is known for it's natural rural beauty and plentiful farmland. There are several organizations that can connect volunteers with farms in order to learn more about the agricultural process. These can include anything from small-operation homesteads to large-scale farms.
The work and hours are extremely variable depending on the season and type of farm: helping with animals, gardening, harvesting, building, preserving, and so on. It is common for volunteers to receive either free or discounted room and board for this work, so this usually necessitates a work visa.
New Zealand has a very diverse population, so you can find volunteer positions working with children within a typical school setting, Maori populations, ESL speakers, children with disabilities, and more.
Many programs exist to work with children in both urban and rural settings which may range from assisting with schoolwork, teaching sports, teaching music, and participating in after-school activities. The hours can vary depending on what position you're looking for but can be as few as a couple of hours per weekday after school.
Environment and Wildlife Conservation
Volunteers can also choose to help protect New Zealand's native plants and animals in the Auckland region. Jobs can include seed collection, tree planting, clearing trails, weed control, and monitoring endangered wildlife. This work is likely to be physically demanding but is also a very important contribution to the natural environment of New Zealand.
Those who are interested in volunteering with animals and might be spending more than a couple weeks in the Auckland region can offer their services at zoos and animal rescue organizations as well.
Requirements and Things to Know Before You Go
If you are a citizen of America, Canada, or the EU, you may stay in New Zealand for up to 90 days without a visa; citizens of the UK may stay visa-free for up to 180 days. If you wish to stay longer than the permitted time period, you must apply for a visitor visa. If you are receiving gain or reward for your volunteer work, such as room and board in exchange for your time, you will need to apply for a work visa before entering the country. Always double-check with your chosen organization for visa advice.
How to Save Money While Volunteering
If your organization does not offer housing, try connecting with other volunteers to find housing together. This way you can potentially commute or travel on off days together as well.
There are many hostels in the Auckland region, some of which offer support and resources for traveling the area on a shoestring budget. It is best to find a living situation that includes a kitchen as eating out can get expensive.
The Auckland region also has opportunity shops, or secondhand stores, where you can find clothing, books, and much more. The area is full of natural beauty - spend a day hiking instead of splurging on tourist traps!
Questions to Ask:
- Will I have to provide my own housing and/or transportation?
- If it is an organization that also draws volunteers from the local population: what is the preferred minimum length of stay for a foreign volunteer?
- Do I need any prior experience?
- Are the hours regular, or do they vary depending on need?
Health and Safety of Volunteers in Auckland
Generally, no vaccines are recommended for travel to New Zealand, although it is always good to be up-to-date on MMR and tetanus vaccines. The Auckland region is considered fairly safe for tourists. If you are staying within Auckland city, you should observe standard precautions of traveling in any major city.
Contributed by Kimberly O'Connor