Native Forest Conservation Helper

founded in 2008
Pupu Rangi Nature Sanctuary
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Coordinator | Octavian
Coordinator | Octavian
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.


Experience living in a rain forest
Learn how to protect endangered species
Connect with like-minded people
Live off grid in a sustainable way
Join us to help protect this beautiful jungle-like forest and to create a safe environment for the kiwi! This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+

You are thinking of coming to New Zealand attracted by the amazing landscapes, never-ending beaches, blue skies, soaring mountains, and green forests. You like nature and seek respite from the crowded city. You sometimes wonder what simple life is like, living off-the-grid, maybe? You want to do something meaningful with your hands and see the result of your work.

You should come and join us!

What you can expect

The Pupu Rangi Nature Sanctuary welcomes you to this place of learning: about the forest and its creatures, about conservation, about what is important in life, and about yourself. You will be challenged on many fronts: living off-the-grid, working in a dense rainforest forest, questioning the need for many of the things that we take for granted. You will meet people from various countries and different backgrounds and together with them you will experience something that is rare these days: the expanse of an uncharted forest which you and your fellow volunteers will help preserve.

While at the sanctuary you will have the opportunity to learn about different aspects of life (living in tune with nature, discovering what is really important to you, what other cultures value most), to get some practical skills (planning, setting priorities, using creativity to find solutions within the available means), to learn about New Zealand native species and the different ways to protect it, to understand what it takes to live in a sustainable way, and to explore the attractions in the surrounding region. Body and mind will both be exercised and enriched.

The program

This program has three components: the conservation work that we do in the forest, the manual work that we do around the sanctuary, and the sightseeing that we do around the region.

The conservation tasks that we perform in our sanctuary and on the behalf of the Department of Conservation are performed at a professional level, and you will receive the training necessary to reach the required high standard. 

Throughout your stay you will learn and practice the basic navigational skills and tools required to operate in the dense rainforest. While working with us, you will realize the vast amount of work that happens behind the scenes to ensure that the New Zealand forest stays healthy. You will also learn the meaning of sustainability through observation and practice. The opportunities to learn are endless and we are keen to teach those that show interest.

Volunteer work

Some of the tasks that you will complete are:

  • cutting and marking tracks
  • installing, refilling, and monitoring bait stations
  • installing and monitoring traps
  • kiwi, kokako, and rodent monitoring
  • seed collection
  • weed control and planting of native plants
  • data entry

The manual work part of the program refers mostly to the activities that we have to perform to maintain and enhance the living area. It is most likely that most of the tasks that you will have to perform will be new to you. We will train you and you will use your creativity and previous skills to find ways of completing the tasks.

Tasks include:

  • weeding and maintaining the herb garden
  • building maintenance tasks (i.e. painting walls, setting up walls)
  • landscaping
  • chopping wood
  • general help around the place

Previous volunteers helped us paint the accommodation buildings, start a herb garden, paved a patio area, built sheds, erected fences, and built an outdoor bath.

Every month, week, and day has its own target tasks to complete be it monitoring, track cutting, or some facility improvement. In general, we aim to find a balance between the conservation and maintenance tasks.

The third component of the program consists of the relaxation activities that are so important to recharge one's batteries. We believe that it is important for each volunteer to see the extent of their contribution in the wider context of the Kauri Coast region. We are also proud of the beauty of this land and it will be our pleasure to share it with you. 

At night we might go on a safari looking for kiwi, these three hour night walks are an amazing opportunity to hear the sounds of the forest and let the stars guide us. Sometimes we also go deep in our forest to visit the glowworms that live near one of the waterfalls. There is nothing as magic as sitting in the dark by the creek and watch the tiny blue lights of these amazing creatures. One day a week we head to the lakes for some swimming or SUP practice, or we head for a long beach walk (or mountain climb), or we visit the amazing two thousand year old Tane Mahuta - the oldest and biggest tree in New Zealand.

Typical day

Typical Day at Work 

  • 8am - 9am breakfast
  • 9am - 10am cleanup
  • 10am - 12pm morning working activity
  • 12pm - 1pm lunch/picnic
  • 1pm - 4pm afternoon working activity
  • 4pm - 6pm leisure activities (free time)
  • 6pm - 8pm dinner
  • 8pm - 10pm leisure activities (sunset watching, dusk bird chorus, and/or searching for kiwis on a night safari) 
Each working morning, depending on the weather, we clarify which tasks will be performed for the day. As a rule of thumb: if it is windy, we go in the forest (where there is protection and warmth), if it is calm, we stay in the living area. We always work in a group for safety and for the pleasure of each other's company.

Please note that Monday is a day off. Depending on the weather, we will pick a day during the week during which we will go sightseeing around the region. 

Free-time activities

Due to our remote location, there are no opportunities to go to town or to the cinema during the free time. However, we have a cinema on site!

During the free time, the volunteers are encouraged to explore our forest. 

We always eat together and sometimes we invite the DOC rangers or the neighbours for dinner. At night we can organize a movie night in our recreational room. 

Monday is always a free day and the volunteers might have the opportunity to access free Wifi at the Dargaville library.

One day a week, we will head out on an adventure either to to swim or SUP at the nearby Kai Iwi lakes, go for a walk on the beach, or visit the two thousand year old kauri tree that lives close to the sanctuary.



In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Required Documents
Letter of Motivation and CV
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Building skills or outdoor guiding skills will be an asset
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 09:00 - 16:00

What's Included

Services by Pupu Rangi Nature Sanctuary

The fees include accommodation, meals, training, night safaris, sightseeing trips around the region (to the lake, beach, etc...), and transfers to/from the closest town.

Volunteers will be responsible for their flight costs, airport transfers, transportation to Dargavile, and accommodation before the start of the program.


Our facilities are basic but functional. One of the principles behind our sanctuary is to be as kind to the environment as possible. We are off-the-grid and we try to use as little resources as possible. The main facilities (kitchen, showers, dinning room) are housed in recycled shipping containers. We reuse as much second hand material or furniture as we can find. 

The accommodation is in a small cabin and consists of bunk beds. For a small additional fee, you may upgrade your accommodation to one of our fantastic tree tents.

Small items can be washed in the sinks and we do a load of washing once a week.The cleaning of the facilities is part of the daily tasks that each participant has to complete.

Please note that we are off the grid and do not have electricity or running water. We have a small solar panel that can be used for the charging of mobile phones on the sunny days

Dorm Room
Food & Beverages

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided. Most of the meat that we eat is organic beef, and we also have organic milk, butter, and cheese. We also have honey that was produced from the trees in our forest.

We accommodate vegetarians and gluten free diets. Please note that we are not able to cater to vegans due to the high level of energy required by the participation in our program.

The drinking water is from filtered rain water. Volunteers are encouraged to plan on bringing their own snacks or any non-alchoolic drinks that they will require.

Please note that alcohol is not permitted in the sanctuary.

We are not able to accommodate smokers due to the risk of fire to the forest.

Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Auckland Airport (AKL) in Auckland. We assist you to find cheap flights to New Zealand.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for New Zealand provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in New Zealand you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for New Zealand.

Dates & Fees


Details on arrival

The nature sanctuary is open the first Monday in November and the first Monday in April. Due to our remote location, you can join (or leave) the program on Mondays only.

Volunteers staying less than four weeks can apply to join on any other Monday

The pick-up time is on Mondays at 17:30 and the drop-off time is on Mondays at 7:00, both in Dargaville, the closest town with public transport


Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2 - 26 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
2 weeks (min. stay)
3 weeks
4 weeks
26 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees
$392 /week

The organization charges its fees in EUR. The price table in USD is subject to currency fluctuation. Pupu Rangi Nature Sanctuary will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Pupu Rangi Nature Sanctuary during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

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Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if Pupu Rangi Nature Sanctuary cancels your trip
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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Pupu Rangi Nature Sanctuary.

What are people saying about Volunteer World?

Native Forest Conservation Helper

Join us to help protect this beautiful jungle-like forest and to create a safe environment for the kiwi!


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