ISV - Volunteer Projects in New Zealand

Video and Photos

Program Update:

ISV will only be conducting programs for this coming summer, 2018 in the Dominican Republic.

About

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.

Impact

Related Programs

Questions & Answers

We had about 16 in my group and 8 in the other! It just all depends on the project needs. The first two weeks we all lived together on a marae. We worked together to do all the chores and cooking. The second two weeks about half us continued on to the adventure tour- the other group was really nice but by then we have already bonded to each other so we stuck together in our own groups!
I think i ended up spending around 6500 USD. You can definitely cut down that price but i did almost all the excursions! Also I brought about $300 spending money and my credit card! Don't try to tell yourself you'll just skip doing things like bungee or skdiving because its incredible. best trip of my life! Also its cheaper to skydive here than in the US (only about $450 USD) .

Reviews

97%
based on 68 reviews
  • Impact 9.4
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 8.5
  • Value 9.6
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 16 - 30 of 68
Default avatar
Katie
9/10

Eye-opening Experience!

My month in New Zealand changed the way I will think and act for the rest of my life! Not only did I learn so much about environmental, economic, and social sustainability, but I also had the chance to live with and learn from the Maori people. The educative opportunities I had during the first two weeks have provided me with a new outlook and a new idea of what I want in life. The love and respect I felt from the hosts, leaders, and my group will always remain with me and the bond that I have with them is irreplaceable. Kaitoki NZ is a life changing place!
The adventure tour provided me with even more incredible memories and experiences! By constantly pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, I have never felt stronger or more alive. And being able to do it all with new friends was great!

How can this program be improved?
I believe that the Project Overview could be a little less vague. I had very little understanding or expectations going into the trip and so was surprised to learn the details of our project and the level of challenging work that it took.
Yes, I recommend
Kaitlyn
10/10

Trip You Need To Take

I have been to other countries before, but this by far was the best trip. With the first two weeks being spent in one place, and our project leaders be people who currently live in New Zealand, I was able to learn so much about the culture and land. We spend most of our volunteer days working with different plants, and by the end I was able to name plants, know where they grow best, and what the native people used them for. I know more about plants in New Zealand rather than my own country! The project leaders were very knowledgeable and were able to express a lot of native words that were jun to pick up on. During the next two weeks we got to really see New Zealand and all of its breathtaking landscapes, by traveling up from the bottom of the south island to the north island. We got to experience so many amazing things such as skydiving, hiking, white water rafting, (my favorite) black water rafting, Hobbiton, and so much more! You finally understand why it is considered middle earth, by how beautiful it all is. I had 7 other college kids in my group, and we all had a great time together. I know I have made some life-long friendships through it. If you want to travel, this is a great way to do it!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Lyndsay
8/10

Broadening Horizons

I was only eighteen when I decided to travel with ISV. I was fresh out of high school, unsure of what to do with myself.I wanted to see the world,but was too scared to do it alone.
I started working full time, and fundraising, to save for my trip to New Zealand. I convinced one of my friends to go with me, and together we encouraged each other to reach our fundraising goals.
In a flash our trip began, and ended. I was able to spend the first two weeks on an isolated island off the coast of Auckland. I got very close with the other participants(and even the park ranger!), and it reminded me of all the camping trips my family use to take when I was kid. I had no internet, no cellphone; we washed our clothes and dishes by hand, and chopped wood for the fireplace. At night we would play checkers, make hot chocolate, eat tim tams, and joke about the days events.
The last two weeks were spent quickly touring the rest of the island. We had a jam packed agenda.
I skydived, kayaked, hiked glaciers, white water rafted, and got to try spelunking with glow worms! I did things I only dreamed of, that when I came home it didn't even feel real.
I came home incredibly full, but somehow empty.The month in New Zealand, had given me confidence I had been looking for the whole time, but I was ready to take on the rest of the world. Staying too long in one place gave me the jitters, and I quickly started planning my next adventure
Fast-forward three years later, and I am now living in Hiroshima, Japan, teaching children English. The most important thing that ISV taught me, was the importance of not being a tourist. I carry that motto with me now, and continue to try and be a self reliant resident, here in Hiroshima Japan, giving back to the community when I can.

I don't regret for a minute the decisions I've made, and know I wouldn't be where I am today, if I hadn't allowed myself the time to travel with ISV.

Lyndsay

How can this program be improved?
Unfortunately the worst thing about my trip were the people, and that's something you can't really control.
I had a fantastic first two weeks, but when all the groups meshed, it became overwhelming. People changed around the wrong kind of influences, and some of the friends I thought I knew from the first two weeks, completely changed. I know if I had gone on the trip now as a 22 year old I would be able to handle my ground, and have enough confidence in myself as a person to not take so many things personally. I found there was a major difference between the 18 to 24 year olds, and there seemed to be an elite crowd, that only the older ones were in, and that everyone wanted to be in. Many of the participants who had just got there mommy and daddys to pay for their trip, showed zero respect for themselves, other participants, and New Zealand. By the time I got to Fiji, myself and my friend were the only two who stayed at the resort, because the rest of our group decided to find their own resort, because it wasn't to their"standards". They came rushing in late at night, saying they had a cab driver waiting outside, and anyone who wanted to come with them better hustle.
Although these events were negative I was able to take a lot from them, learned about myself, and still had a great time. I just think its important to be honest with these kinds of things. I don't necessarily have a resolution to these problems. Ive wanted to go on another ISV trip, but am hesitant of what kind of participants I would encounter. People can really make or break an experience, and I know how difficult it is, because you never know what kind of people are applying to these things, or if their parents are just making them.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Amanda
9/10

Exploring New Zealand

Volunteering with the Department of Conservation in New Zealand was not only a great resume-booster for me but also the adventure of a lifetime. I also made lifelong friends from across the globe on this program who I still go to visit, even five years later! I got to see and learn and experience so many things on this trip, from floating through glow worm caves to riding horseback through scenes from Lord of the Rings. I highly recommend this program for anyone who loves the outdoors and is searching for some adventure. :)

How can this program be improved?
The food costs could be made a little more transparent. It seemed like we paid more for groceries than we actually ended up spending.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Halle
10/10

The best experience to immerse yourself in New Zealand culture

As a wildlife biologist this was the best experience of my life. I learned so much about New Zealands native people and the plant and animal life. In the 2 weeks we volunteered we planted over 5000 trees and learned the cultural significance of New Zealands environment to the Maori people. I gained so many skills for my future career from gps work to radio tracking kiwis. The scenery was absolutely break taking and the work was more like vacation because it was so fun. I made friends that will be friends for a lifetime and the last two weeks I bungeed, went horseback riding, white water rafted and spelunked just to name a few. I loved New Zealand so much I never wanted to leave and would love to go back. I highly recommend this program to anyone interested in wildlife

How can this program be improved?
As a wildlife biologist I would have liked some more hands on work with wildlife but I made up for it with a new wealth of knowledge of New Zealands plant biology
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Matthew
10/10

Most amazing experience of my life

On my trip to New Zealand I was able to make a difference and give back to the environment in a positive rewarding way. It was amazing to experience the outdoors and scenery that is unique to New Zealand and can be found no other place in the world. After making a contribution to environmental conservation efforts, I had the amazing chance to tour the country for two weeks for the new friends I had just made. The tour included activities like hiking, bungee jumping in the place it was created, skydiving, whitewater rafting, natural Polynesian hot springs, the amazing glow worm caves of waitomo and so much more amazing things. I highly recommend to fans of outdoors, the lord of the rings/hobbit(you visit hobbiton), and adrenaline junkies.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Lisa
10/10

ISV changed my life

I cannot begin to tell you how much my program with ISV has impacted my life. I learned so much about the planet, the culture and history of New Zealand, responsible travel and most importantly, myself. This is not just a volunteer trip. It is an opportunity to experience something amazing that will transform you as a person.

Not only was the educational experience and program content phenomenal, but the logistics and support from ISV staff was beyond satisfactory. Office staff in California was always there if I needed something or if I needed help. Everything from documents to flights to payment was centralized from the California headquarters so it made the entire process smooth and simple. Not to mention, every time I called the office, I spoke with an actual HUMAN. This meant so much to me considering it was my first time abroad.

ISV is a wonderful organization. The passion and commitment ISV has to make the world a better place surpassed all of my expectations.

Thank you ISV. I am a better person because of you.

How can this program be improved?
Make the programs longer =]
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Connor
10/10

The Best Experince of My Life

This was definitely the best experience of my life. I volunteered at a conservation reserve in southern New Zealand and I'm still questioning if it actually happened. Everything was so organized and we always got to where we needed to go on time. If for some reason we could not do an activity (because of weather) ISV had another one lined up and ready to go. It is true when ISV says that "you will do more in 4 weeks than most people do in their lifetime."

How can this program be improved?
This program could not be improved. The only thing I could possibly say needs improving is the price but when all of the things you get to do, the amount of organization, the deals they cut with these companies..... you're actually getting an extremely low price. I would go on this program again in a heartbeat.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Dan
10/10

Dunedin, New Zealand

This trip was a blast. The conservation work during the first two weeks was life changing, and the adventure tour was some of the most fun I have ever had. It was an awesome experience getting to see the penguins the first two weeks, and being able to see our progress at the end and knowing what that would do for the environment there was priceless. The adventure tour was filled with amazing experiences, and I would have to say that bungy jumping, visiting Hobbiton, and hiking in all the different landscapes were my favorite while there. The 360 degree view from the top ofAlex Knob in Franz Josef was breathtaking and it was awesome watching the helicopters fly below us.

How can this program be improved?
I would increase the length of the program because although we were there for a month, I would have loved to stay there longer to see more and do more conservation work.
Yes, I recommend
Caitlin
9/10

Land of the Long White Cloud

Going to New Zealand was a very surreal experience. When I first arrived, our group came to a small town in the bush (forest) and it felt almost as if I were in pre-historic times. The trees and leaves are so much bigger than I was used to coming from the United States. It was absolutely gorgeous. Over the course of a month we were able to travel all over the north and the south island, to large cities like Wellington and to small towns like Rotoorangi. The first portion of our trip 35 of us planted over 4 thousand native trees which was to help return the land to it's natural habitat and rebuild the bird population. The next two weeks was packed full of adventure, from 8 hours of glacier hiking to 8 hours of glow worm cave exploration. The lay-out of the islands makes it easy to be close to water and the weather year around is great, staying around 55° even in the winter. Of course if you travel from the north to the south island you will find it gets much colder the closer you get to the southern Alpe mountains which are covered in lush white show that is often used by snowboarders and skiers. We were given a chance to visit a Maori house and church and to perform and be preformed for. It was a great experience to learn the culture and meet with naive Maori people. I also really enjoyed our instructors and our leaders. They all had great energy and were a lot if fun.

How can this program be improved?
Even though we had a lot of experience and traveled a lot, the total amount of money I so spent on my trip was questionability worth it.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Katie
10/10

Just One Month Can Change Your Life

When I found out about this program, I was beyond excited. Going across the world to explore new cultures and areas, all while helping the environment? Sign me up.

This experience will always hold a huge place in my heart. Through ISV, I managed to conquer my fears in more ways than one, all while having the greatest time of my life. I will never forget the way I felt bungee-jumping off the Kawarau Bridge, which was the absolute high-light of my trip. I will never forget looking up at the night sky and seeing the Milky Way light up above me. I will never forget the friendships I've made or the memories we created with each other.

This experience was more than I had ever imagined. The adventure tour was amazing and thrilling, yes, but the most unique part of this program is the volunteer portion. I learned so much about myself in those two weeks. It was like a new part of me bloomed into someone I never thought I could be, in a good way of course. This program makes you feel so empowered, no matter who you are or where you come from.

ISV is such an incredible program, and I wish everyone could have the chance to participate in it. The staff and team leaders are so incredibly helpful and kind towards you and make you feel at home. Although it is a little pricey, it is still well worth it. The experiences and memories I've gained from this program mean so much to me, even six months after completing it! I would happily participate in ISV again in a heartbeat.

How can this program be improved?
I would change it so that everyone would be on the same flight and possibly sit closer to each other, especially if you are in the same project group. If we are on a plane for over thirteen hours, it would be a lot more bearable if we could talk to the people we'd be with for the next two weeks!

Other than that, the rest of program is wonderful and worth every penny.
Yes, I recommend
Courtnie
10/10

One Person CAN Make a Difference

Going to New Zealand through ISV changed my life more than I could have ever imagined. It was amazing being a part of a project so meaningful along side so many passionate people. I was able to meet new people who shared goals, passions and interests similar to mine. Experiencing different and exciting new things with my new friends, was something I will never forget and I wouldn't trade my time with them for anything. You get on a plane and expect everything to be scary, and don't get me wrong, it is, but in the most beautiful and spectacular way. You find ways to leave your comfort zone and you learn new things about yourself that you wouldn't have at home. I got to spend two weeks living my dream to rebuild habitats for endangered animals and got to learn about sustainable development hands on. I went bungee jumping, saw hobbit houses, climbed up a waterfall, hiked to destinations I had only dreamt about, learned about a new culture and made friends & memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life. If you have the chance to and want to volunteer abroad, ISV has everything a person could ask for. Adventure. Passion. Education. Impact your world with ISV. You won't regret it.

How can this program be improved?
I wish I could have spent my whole summer volunteering with ISV, a longer program for a doable price would be amazing.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Miran
9/10

The best thing you can do for yourself

New Zealand is honestly the most beautiful place with the kindest people I've ever encountered. No matter how big your expectations are of this place, they will always be surpassed and you will be floored by the majesty of the landscape and the variety of species that are unique to New Zealand. I would highly recommend seeing the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. The vast number of glow worms will make you feel so small under a blanket of a million blue stars.

If you have the chance and the means to volunteer abroad, New Zealand will not make you regret doing so. It's really the best thing you can do for yourself.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Jess
9/10

Great experience

I loved this trip so much. Definitely recommend it to anyone. The only problem I had was with the staff on the additional 2 week excursion part. I had an allergic reaction to something, but she did not want me going to the clinic because I would miss an activity (even though it was necessary) and she did not keep it private. Otherwise it was an increible trip.

How can this program be improved?
Work more with the students and put their needs before the staff members.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Alissa
9/10

Awesome Journey with ISV

I had an amazing experience with ISV and looking back, I would say has it definitely sparked my interest in travel, as I have travelled alone or with others every year since. Our 3 ISV group leaders were AMAZING as well as the program coordinator/bus driver/everything man! We spent two weeks doing environmental conversation (planting trees, weeding, monitoring local pests, track building) and I really liked getting my hands dirty! It was so interesting to learn about the Maori culture as well, that feels like a total privilege. We were welcomed to the local Maori community and learned about their history.

What initially drew my into this trip was the adventure tour especially since I am an adrenaline junkie. NZ is THE place for extreme sports from skydiving to bungy jumping to jet-boating. The black water rafting is such a unique and amazing experience. Thinking back though, I totally loved everything about this program. ISV is a great company because they really care about giving you the best learning opportunity possible as well as all the cool extras on the adventure tour. They will always make sure you have options if something is cancelled due to bad weather. They give you plenty of tips about where to go, but you don't always have to stick together as a group and are free to choose where you spend your free time, although they will always have suggestions for you and point you to the local tourist point for info. They encourage you to keep a journal, which you should definitely do throughout the whole stay. I did in detail and that was great because you don't remember all the interesting stuff you learn about the culture otherwise.

This experience has opened my eyes to different ways in which I can be involved in volunteering and also what concrete things I can do to play my part in helping the environment. Making us aware and helping us plan and apply sustainable development and responsible tourism was included in my ISV program. I made friends and I realized the importance of finding work that is meaningful to me. I will go back to New Zealand for sure, I would love to spend some time working there as well. This was a very new experience for me, as I tend to be somewhat reserved, but this trip is all about teamwork so I loved meeting people and I also loved the idea of doing something new and exciting everyday!

How can this program be improved?
I think they should make the option to fly with the group not optional but obligatory. I did not book my flight with ISV, thinking I would save money because my parent works for an airline. But due to the volcano ash cloud (i.e. always expect the unexpected), I ending up having to buy a ticket last minute. That's the only dent in my otherwise great trip, and it was not really ISV's faut but my own. I told them that they could use my experience as a cautionary tale. So unless you are certain that nothing bad or unexpected will happen, book the flight with ISV, it saves you the hassle and stress of dealing with bookings in events such as these. This is the reason I gave a 9 out of 10 and not a 10, but honestly the ISV staff was great about all this and I got to stay at the hotel with the others, even though technically I was not booked with ISV for the flight.
Yes, I recommend

About ISV (International Student Volunteers)

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...