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.

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 67 reviews
  • Impact 9.4
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 8.5
  • Value 9.6
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 31 - 45 of 67
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Melissa
9/10

ISV-New Zealand

If you have a thirst for adventure and a desire to make a positive impact, then International Student Volunteers is the program for you. In just four short weeks I met some amazing students from all over the world, got to do volunteer work in a Paparoa National Park, and explore an entire country. Spending two weeks in a low key volunteer house working with some amazing people was such a fulfilling experience! The work we did was rewarding and enjoyable. The first two weeks of volunteer work were a great lead in to an adrenaline filled adventure tour. In just two weeks I jumped off the world's first commercial bungy bridge, white water rafted off of the highest commercial rafted drop in the world, repelled 11 stories into a cave, climbing up underground waterfalls, became a Hobbit for a day, and saw some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. This trip definitely was a once in a life-time opportunity. ISV is a great program if you're a first time traveler. They do all of the planning for you and make sure you're safe while you're overseas. All in all, ISV just provides a great international experience for its students.

How can this program be improved?
This program was a bit pricey, but it required no stressful planning on my end.
Yes, I recommend
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Erin
10/10

Black Water Rafting

I was so lucky to get to go on the adventure tour and go black water rafting. They taught us how to repel down a 250 foot hole in the ground and then we ziplined, floated, jumped, and climbed our way through a dark underwater cave speckled with glow worms. It was on of the most vivid, amazing, memorable, strange, exhilarating experiences of my life

How can this program be improved?
Honestly, it was so amazing. I think the only thing I could wish for would be for it to be cheaper so I could go back and do it again. I loved the opportunity to explore, give back to and learn about the community, and go on an adventure of the whole country.
Yes, I recommend
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Anne
10/10

It was a fantastic adventure

The international student volunteers (ISV) program in New Zealand was amazing! It was a month-long, full-immersion exploration of the country consisting of two weeks of conservation work and two weeks of adventure. We met and spent the night at a Maori village and learned and participated in their traditions and culture. We explored the northern and southern islands from east to west and from sky to sea. I went skydiving (separate cost) and glacier hiking (included). I met some wonderful people and cherish some amazing photo memories of my time there (and this was back in 2006!). I'm sure the program has only gotten more amazing. I don't have a single negative memory - it was all wonderful and I fully recommend it to anyone.

Yes, I recommend
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Adriana
10/10

Adrenaline rush, amazing people

I absolutely loved my experience with ISV- New Zealand. Not only were we immersed among the Maori culture, but we learned about the environment and made an impact with their land. It was amazing to learn about a very unique place like New Zealand with its unique wildlife and landscapes. The excursions that ISV loops into this trip will take your breath away.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Jane
10/10

Beautiful Country, Wonderful Program

New Zealand is hands-down one of the most beautiful countries I've ever visited, and its people are some of the most welcoming I've encountered. Through ISV, we planted thousands of trees and significantly restored natural habitats in just 2 weeks' time. We had the opportunity to spend one night during our project with a native Maori tribe. They graciously allowed us to stay at their home in exchange for some landscaping work on their property, and they even cooked us a traditional Maori dinner while they told us stories about their ancestors.

During the Adventure Tour, I got to experience white-water rafting, black-water rafting in caves underground, zorbing, horseback riding through the location where Lord of the Rings was filmed, and so much more. I even decided to face my fears and try bungee jumping in Queenstown, where it was invented.

If you're considering volunteering in New Zealand with ISV, do it!!! I've been on 4 ISV Programs and if I could, I'd do them all in a heartbeat.

Yes, I recommend
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Katherine
10/10

You Will Change the World

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 can 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.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Kristen
10/10

Relearning to Live

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 can 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."
Yes, I recommend
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Lee
8/10

Making the Connection

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 can 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.
Yes, I recommend
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Robbie
8/10

Experience of a lifetime

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 can 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.
Yes, I recommend
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Sarah
10/10

The Experience of a Lifetime!

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 can 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.
Yes, I recommend
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Jessica
10/10

Bucket list MUST!

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 can 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.
Yes, I recommend
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Kevin
10/10

Great adventure that set me up for many world travels

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 can 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.
Yes, I recommend
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Hannah
10/10

New Zealand Conservation - "Sweet As"

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 can this program be improved?
It really could not have been changed. The volunteer work and the adventure tout were fantastic!
Yes, I recommend
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Kat
9/10

Had the time of my life

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 can 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.
Yes, I recommend
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Morgan
10/10

Absolutely mind-blowing

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 can this program be improved?
Communication with my fellow travelers before the tour would have helped.
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.

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