Experience NZ through conservation volunteering
Imagine getting up close to endangered birds and helping to re-introduce wildlife to some of New Zealand’s most beautiful areas, or contributing to the stunning country’s natural environment by planting trees that are vital to the ecosystem.
There are a number of unforgettable conservation volunteering opportunities available to visitors around Auckland, from small local replanting groups to major island and mainland conservation efforts.
New Zealand is one of the greatest success stories in conservation history, with areas that had seemingly been destroyed during the post-colonial, being returned to their prime through volunteer projects.
The life-changing volunteering experiences are some of the best ways to enjoy nature in a country famous for its natural beauty and wildlife, and at Habitat Tours, we can help you plan your memorable visit.
For thousands of years, New Zealand was a bird haven, free from rodents and snakes. The group of islands belonged to the beautiful birds that filled both the ground and the skies. Some birds didn’t even need to fly because predators were not a threat, including the iconic kiwi and takahe.
Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city, and there are a number of locations around the region where the eradication of pests and reintroduction of wildlife has been a resounding success. About an hour from the city, Tawharanui Regional Park is one of the North Island’s most successful conservation examples, and it is now a world-class bird watching destination.
Imagine just 13 years ago, the area was predominantly farmland and the birdsong had disappeared from a once thriving endemic bird habitat. Volunteers, along with the local council, embarked on a mission to free the area from pests, with a 2.5-kilometre predator-proof fence along the peninsula. And today, as a result of that effort, the stunning beaches, lush farmland and coastal bush are home to an abundance of wildlife with beautiful birdsong ringing from the trees again.
Eighteen species have been reintroduced or returned to the area, including the kiwi, takahe, pateke and saddleback. The beautiful peninsula has reverted back to its pre-colonial days, when Captain Cook famously noted, “it seemed to be like small bells most exquisitely tuned”.
The importance of the islands
The Hauraki Gulf off the coast of Auckland is a popular spot for day tours and boat trips, with dolphin and whale watching, water sports and island visits. The islands that dot the gulf are important conservation destinations for endemic birds, wildlife and native flora, and thousands of volunteer hours have been put into the rehabilitation of the landscapes, with the reintroduction of endemic birds and replanting of native trees.
Probably New Zealand’s most well-known conservation success story is Little Barrier Island – the most intact ecosystem in the country. It is such an important and vulnerable sanctuary that human impact is kept to a minimum, special permission is required to land on the island.
Experience it for yourself
Despite the major success conservation has had in New Zealand over the past few years, it is an on-going initiative and there is always plenty to do. From forest and wetland restoration and monitoring animals to planting and pest control, there are a number of opportunities to choose from.
Habitat Tours supports a vital volunteer organisation at Tawharanui, which involves monitoring newly-arrived takahe, as well as weeding and planting. The stunning, colourful ground bird was thought to be extinct in the late 1800s and early 1900s until it was rediscovered in the 1940s, and it is extremely important to continue protecting and supporting the magnificent species.
You can join us on the first Sunday of every month for an unforgettable volunteering experience, which includes a morning of conservation work, followed by a BBQ and then a guided tour of the park. Along the way, visitors learn about New Zealand’s flora and wildlife, including, of course, some incredible bird watching opportunities.
For eco tours in Auckland and amazing bird watching experiences around the region, look no further than Habitat Tours, where you can always expect a wealth of knowledge from our local expert tour guides
Tristan Cullen - Passionate Conservationist