ISV - Volunteer Projects in New Zealand

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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 46 - 60 of 67
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Amanda
10/10

Best Trip Ever!!

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 can this program be improved?
have more meals covered in the trip.
Yes, I recommend
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Eric
10/10

Best time ever

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 can this program be improved?
If I had to change one thing it would be the provided meals, they left a bit to be desired...
Yes, I recommend
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Neema
10/10

A place where eleven people left their heart and soul

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 can this program be improved?
The program was eight years ago and I can't recall anything that could have made the experience better.
Yes, I recommend
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Shefali
9/10

Fell In Love With New Zealand

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 can 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.
Yes, I recommend
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Trina
10/10

Phenomenal in Every Way

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 can 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.
Yes, I recommend
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Melanie
10/10

ISV Volunteer Trip 2011 - New Zealand

Travelling to New Zealand in the summer of 2011 was one of the best volunteer trips I've ever done. My group started on Motuihe Island, just off the coast of Auckland, and did ecological conservation work there for a few weeks. After that, we travelled from Queenstown back up to Auckland, hitting bungee jumping, sky diving, glow worm caves, white water rafting, and volcanoes along the way.

How can this program be improved?
Less time on the bus is hard to avoid, but if it was possible - I would limit the amount of time on a bus to about 3-4 hours per day.
Yes, I recommend
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Liz
10/10

Kiwi for life

Spending time in New Zealand with ISV wasn't just impactful, it has left a lifelong imprint on my life. Not only did we get to help out the environmental scene in NZ, but we were also inducted into a Maori tribe after spending two days with them.

I learned so much from my instructors and peers and was immersed fully into thie rich culture for four weeks. I wouldn't trade the experiences I had in NZ with ISV for anything in the world.

How can this program be improved?
I would make the school credit program a little more enticing and easier to understand.
Yes, I recommend
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Megan
9/10

Kiwi Experience

This trip would be amazing for anyone interested in sustainability and green community development. The first two weeks were spent planting native tree species, pulling weeds, going to town council meetings in Kaikoura--one of the greenest towns on Earth, touring the recycling center, learning about the impact of waste on plants and animals, and visiting a natural baby seal sanctuary.

New Zealand, especially the South Island, is completely breath taking. Just keep in mind that southern and northern hemispheres run on opposite seasonal calendars.

ISV also does adventure tours, so after two volunteering weeks I spent two more traveling the islands and sky diving, kayaking, hiking on glaciers, caving and seeing glow worms, and zorbing.

How can this program be improved?
The volunteer work felt overwhelming at times because we could only work on a little at a time. Planting one tree--or removing one invasive weed--is time consuming and difficult, so it was a bit depressing to see whole hillsides covered in invasive weeds knowing that they were growing faster than we could pull them up.
Yes, I recommend
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Candace
9/10

Great times traveling New Zealand

I had an amazing time on my trip to New Zealand. I helped plant trees on a wildlife reserve. The planting trees and fixing fences was hard work but I had a great team. I really enjoyed getting to know my team we spent a lot of time together and became close friends. On the second half of the trip we travelled everywhere. I went zorbing and did a horse riding tour of The Lord of the rings set. New Zealand has great extreme sports like bungee jumping and sky diving

How can this program be improved?
A bit pricey
Yes, I recommend
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Diana
10/10

Life Changing

Traveling with ISV to New Zealand was life changing for me. It gave me direction with what I wanted to do in my career. I learned so much from the other students as well as the locals I got to work with. We lived on a farm and everyday we traveled to different sites. We did trail restoration, removed invasive plant species, learned about the Maori culture, went to elementary schools and worked with children. I have established life long friends from this experience.

How can this program be improved?
The financial aspect. It is so expensive and I am sure that deters a lot of students from going. I know that maybe the price cannot be reduced, but finding more people to donate (thus creating scholarships) so more students can have this experience would be invaluable. And teaching students to find ways to raise the funds. Is there a tax deduction for those who get donations?
Yes, I recommend
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Stacia
10/10

2005 New Zealand ISV trip

Where do I even start? I still talk about this day 9 years later. I meet so many great and amazing people. The one thing I remember is making walking trails, planting trees, and working with the local children. It was an amazing trip that I will forever be grateful. If I didn't go on this trip I wouldn't have meet my husband. He is from another state and we both signed up for this trip. 9 years later we finally got married and even friends we meet on the trip came to the wedding. I will always remember this trip and be so grateful for it letting me come out of my shell and see a whole new world.

How can this program be improved?
I wouldn't change anything expect maybe for me, going on a longer stay. I didn't want to come home!!
Yes, I recommend
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Vince
10/10

4 weeks of FUN

New Zealand via ISV was an amazing way to explore the country.
We started off by planting trees for our volunteer program. No doubt it was manual labor. I felt a bit strange paying so much to travel to volunteer, but they set up food, lodging and you have an instant social circle. The trail reconstruction part of the program felt more rewarding and as an avid hiker I felt as though I made a larger impact.

Yes, I recommend
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Michelle
10/10

Life Changing Experience

I had a once in a life time experience in New Zealand!

Volunteer Project:
I had the best group of people I could ask for to volunteer with on a unique island called Motuihe just a 30min boat ride from Auckland. Although it may not be appealing to be isolated from the rest of civilization, it was a liberating experience being able to leave behind cellphones and even internet for two whole weeks! However, we were able to go into Auckland 2 times during the volunteer portion to connect with family and friends as well as experience urban New Zealand life! I myself am interested in restoration ecology and it was neat to gain an insider perspective at the different initiatives being undertaken around the world. I became incredibly close with the people I met on the island as well as with the two project leaders. They made our stay so welcoming that I defiantly would go back some day!

Adventure tour:
This part of the trip honestly changed my life. I was not the type of person at all who would ever consider bungy jumping or white water rafting. I am not generally a thrill seeker but this part of my trip pushed me in ways I had never been pushed before. If you decide to do this trip BUNGY JUMP. Honestly, it is the most liberating and amazing thing one can experience and that was worth every penny. It pushes you mentally and physically. The other parts of the trip aim to push you in other ways, scared of the dark? Caving helps you with that. Fear of heights? You can bungy jump or sky dive. The best part of the adventure tour is that I never felt pressured to do anything. I had my group to support me 100% but never did any of the guides or the people I met push me over the edge (literally or metaphorically).

How can this program be improved?
We had an overnight flight delay due to fog in Auckland flying out to Queenstown so we missed one day of activities. However, our project leader stayed with us until ISV sent a representative down to the airport to figure the situation out. It did take them most of the day but they were able to put us up with free accommodation and meals for the night as well as rescheduling our flight. The staff was amazing in making sure we arrived at the airport in time and our tour guide who met us in Queenstown was promptly there and very helpful. He rescheduled an activity that was cancelled and made sure it was of equivalent value to what we missed.
Yes, I recommend
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Cary
10/10

The Coolest Volunteer Group Out There!

This summer I travelled with ISV on their New Zealand project. I volunteered for two weeks on an amazing island named Motuihe. We planted trees and removed invasive plants and I really felt like what I was doing mattered. Even though these two weeks were the volunteer part of my trip it really felt like a fun environmentally-based camping trip. The people I was with were awesome and fun and the staff was incredibly helpful. After, I went on a two week adventure tour and had more fun than I've ever had in my entire life. I went bungy jumping, white water rafting, cave exploring, and glacier hiking! And as cool as those activities were, there is much more you experience as well. I met amazing people that became my best friends, learned about other cultures and unique ecosystems, and experienced an immersive trip that completely changed my life. I even got to go on a fifth week to Fiji after New Zealand! I am travelling with this organization again and again and again!

Yes, I recommend
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Atlanta
10/10

my month in the land of White Cloud (New Zealand)

When we first got to NZ we were taught 2 local songs that we would need to sing when we were "adopted" into the Maori tribe we were working with. The words were easy and a nice catchy tune. Our first few days we were planting local trees for a nature habitat, then off to do track work to a huge Kauri tree so the handicap people could reach the tree. It was mostly a lot of digging but we had fun doing it. We then spent 2 days of "weeding" at another nature habitat pulling up invasive and non-native plants. For the weekend during the first 2 weeks we went to Mount Maunganui spent a night on the town and got to do a bone carving necklace. Our last work week was spent on the Maori burial ground digging up more non-native plants. Let me tell you gorse really hurts, spines about an inch long can go through jeans like they were butter. Also went to a place for the mentally challenged and helped them transfer seedlings into bigger pots. Even though they couldn't live like normal they had huge hearts and a lot more compassion. We even spent 2 days with the towns' school becoming buddies and learning a new game could "bull run", I didn't play but watched. Those kids could tackle better than our football players. Learned more about the culture and people during our last 2 weeks when we toured both islands.
Our living quarters were in houses that could hold 8-12 people, no heat, so best to bring very warm clothes. There were chances to go into town or ask one of our guides to get things for us. During my time for the work weeks it kinda rained- alot. Gumboots are a lifesaver, save your shoes for when you go to town or for the adventure tour. We cooked our own food as a group and cleaned as a group. Laundry was provided by our guest but dried in the main hall with the fireplace. Best not to have your unmentionables washed, but do them yourself and dried where the water heater was stored in your house.
Once the work weeks were done, we met up with another ISV group for the adventure tour and the start of very long bus rides with beautiful scenery. Best to bring along an ipod or other mp3 player so you don't get to bored. Cameras are a must so bring batteries and a couple of memory cards cause you will want to remember every detail of your trip. One day while everybody was four-wheeling, I found myself wanting to explore the town of Nelson. Went to a couple of museums there and found the jeweler that made the One Ring for LOTR. Even found a trail that lead me overlooking Nelson. It was breathtaking, could see all the way to the sea. There was also a local farmers market going on the same day that we were there. Bought some local fish for dinner since we were staying in a hostel and had to prepare our own meals. Good thing one of our guys was a budding cook. The other group we picked up had come from the islands that were working with the penguins. By the stories they told us; we had the better part of the working weeks. In Rotorua, we were staying at the same hostel as the All Blacks 21. The guys were so nice to us, even though we later found out that if anything happened their chances of playing on the All Black team would be nil.
The month that I spent there really changed my life and made me want to bring some of the lessons I learned back to the states. Even though it has been 4 yrs since I came back it only seems like yesterday that we were in Queenstown hitting up the local bars and shops or soaking in the hot springs at Rotorua.
If you ever get a chance to go- DO IT. Don't hold back. IT was the trip of a lifetime (maxed out my cards) but I really didn't care. If I had the chance to go again I would do it without hesitation. One of the saying they told us was to stay positive, people there were the happiest I have ever seen.

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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