Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park

Summer Volunteering Getaway

Help us at Punakaiki to transform a former farm and mining site into a native rainforest! Plant and raise native seedlings to help preserve and enhance the breeding habitat of the Tāiko Westland Petrel - the only place in the world where they come to breed each year.  

At a glance.


5 Days and 4 Nights (Starts Monday 9:15 am and ends Friday 4:30pm)


At our local backpacker.



Food with vegetarian and vegan options is provided, with everyone joining in at mealtimes to prepare and share.


Anyone aged 18 or over can join.


Planting, taking our eco-sourced seeds through to young trees ready to plant, removing invasive weeds and more!


Nikau Scientific Reserve, Pancake Rocks, Paparoa National Park and its many amazing walks.


Programme details.

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Volunteering activities

Volunteering takes place Monday to Friday. A trained volunteering guide will work alongside you during the day, with evenings left free to explore the area and catch up with fellow volunteers. There’s lots to do including volunteer projects in the nursery, as we take our eco-sourced seeds through to young trees ready to plant. Then there’s planting, as we work to get 100,000 trees in the ground in the next twelve months! Plus there are other exciting habitat restoration projects to explore and be part of. Other volunteering activities include preparing the ground for planting, removing invasive weeds and more!


Sharing with others

If you’re interested we’d love to inspire your creativity as well, as we develop resources to encourage people everywhere to get planting our future native forests, and share the Wild Heart Project vision. Video, Instagram feeds, and simple conservation how-to-guides are just the beginning of what’s possible.



In the evening there’s time to relax with your fellow volunteers. Accommodation, wifi and food is included, with everyone joining in preparing meals.


Your guide

Our guides are people who love to share their passion for nature and conservation. As well as being your guide for the various conservation activities, they’ll take time to tell you more about this special place, its unique nature, and ways we can look after it. During the week your guide will introduce you to the project, work with you on your volunteering projects, and share with you their knowledge about conservation and the region.



Your accommodation is in our local backpacker with mattress and pillows provided. There’s full kitchen, shower, bathroom and laundry facilities. 


Other activities

Volunteer activities take place 9.15am - 4.30pm Monday to Friday. You can spend your free time exploring the Punakaiki area on your own or with fellow volunteers. There’s some great walks all within easy walking distance of your accommodation including the short walks to Pancake Rocks and the Truman Track, and longer hikes into the Porarari Gorge. Find out more about the Paparoa National Park here, and download the Department of Conservation’s great map and booklet for the region. You can also follow up your time spent volunteering with the New Zealand’s newest Great Walk – the Paparoa Track and the Pike29 Memorial Track.


Getting there

Our meeting point is 9.15am at the Punakaiki Coastal Restoration Project at 3916 Coast Road, Barrytown 7873 (approximately 4km south of Punakaiki Visitor Centre). Here’s a Google Maps link for the meeting point. 

If you don’t have your own transport we can also pick you up from the Punakaiki Visitor Centre at 9am. Here’s a Google Maps link for the Visitor Centre. In the guest registration form there’s an option to select this.


Don’t stop!

Volunteers can book multiple weeks in either one project, or get involved in a number of projects around the country.

What to bring

We provide all the tools and equipment needed for each volunteer activity. We’ll also send you a list of things to bring including:

  • Long trousers

  • Comfortable walking or working boots

  • Wide-brimmed sun hat/beanie

  • Sleeping bag

  • SPF 50 Sunscreen

  • Long sleeved shirts

  • Wet weather clothing

  • Tough work or gardening gloves (Optional)

  • Drink bottle

  • Insect repellent

  • Sunglasses

  • Backpack

  • Personal medications

Ready to make a difference this summer?

Frequently asked questions

Who can volunteer?

Everyone aged 18 and over! We have people from all walks of life, and both kiwis and people from all around the world volunteering. It’s a great opportunity to make a real difference, and get to know others who are also into nature and conservation. People aged 17 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

When do projects start?

Our projects start every Monday and end on Friday, with the first few hours on Monday spend introducing you to the project, the activities for the week as well as covering requirements to ensure your health and safety.

How long is each day’s volunteering?

Your guide will pick you up from your accommodation around 8.30am, and take you to the project site in our minivans. We always stop for a morning tea break as well as lunch around 1pm. We finish up for the day around 4pm, and bring you back to your accommodation. If we’re passing a great spot, we’ll often stop and explore.

How physical are the activities?

This varies, however every activity has a range of tasks, so everyone can find something that suits their level of fitness. We also make sure there’s time every day to connect with nature and listen to the birds!

How many people will be in our group?

The maximum size of our volunteering projects is 10 volunteers. Past volunteers say one of the best parts of the experience was getting to really know each other and their guide, and we’ve found limiting the group size really helps this.

Can I extend how long I volunteer for once I’ve started?

Absolutely, you can just book online as you go – however places can fill up though...

What’s included?

Your accommodation and food is included. We provide a pantry of vegetarian food ingredients. All volunteers are expected to help with cooking and dishes. There are hot showers, and also laundry facilities including a drier and detergent.

Will I have to use sprays and chemicals?

No, volunteers don’t have to use these. Our focus is on planting, restoration and monitoring of native species.

What do other volunteers think?

“It was a really memorable experience doing conservation work at Punakaiki. We went with a DOC ranger to help maintain the tracks at the Pancake Rocks. It was a thrill working so close to the spectacular blowholes and seeing them in action!”