Shore plovers chicks in their nest

Image: Rod Morris, DOC | ©


October 2018 – March 2019 for stints of 2–4 weeks: monitor shore plover/tūturuatu breeding success.


October 2018 – March 2019

You must be able to commit to stints of 2 or preferably 4 weeks as it takes a week to build skills.

  • Stint 0.0: Monday, 24 September – Monday, 8 October 2018 (15 days)
  • Stint 1.0: Monday, 8 October – Monday, 5 November 2018 (29 days)
  • Stint 1.1: Monday, 8 October – Tuesday, 23 October 2018 (16 days)
  • Stint 1.2: Tuesday, 23 October – Monday, 5 November 2018 (14 days)
  • Stint 2.0: Monday, 5 November – Monday, 3 December 2018 (29 days)
  • Stint 2.1: Monday, 5 November – Monday, 19 November 2018 (15 days)
  • Stint 2.2: Monday, 19 November – Monday, 3 December 2018 (15 days)
  • Stint 3.0: Monday, 3 December – Friday, 4 January 2019 (33 days)
  • Stint 3.1: Monday, 3 December – Friday, 21 December 2018 (19 days)
  • Stint 3.2: Friday, 21 December 2018 – Friday, 4 January 2019 (15 days)
  • Stint 4.0: Friday, 4 January – Monday, 4 February 2019 (32 days)
  • Stint 4.1: Friday, 4 January – Monday, 21 January 2019 (18 days)
  • Stint 4.2: Monday, 21 January – Monday, 4 February 2019 (15 days)
  • Stint 5.0: Monday, 4 February – Monday, 4 March 2019 (29 days)
  • Stint 5.1: Monday, 4 February – Monday, 18 February 2019 (15 days)
  • Stint 5.2: Monday, 18 February – Monday, 4 March 2019 (15 days)
  • Stint 6.0: Monday, 4 March – Monday, 1 April 2019 (29 days)
  • Stint 6.1: Monday, 4 March – Monday, 18 March 2019 (15 days)
  • Stint 6.2: Monday, 18 March – Monday, 1 April 2019 (15 days)


Successful applicants will monitor the breeding success of shore plover, which has a conservation status of Threatened – Nationally Critical. DOC aims to establish a viable population of shore plover on predator-free Motutapu Island.

A Massey University researcher is investigating causes of nest failure and chick mortality.


The role requires self-discipline and a strong interest in birds and bird behaviour. It does not suit everyone. 

There’s no simple way to monitor chick loss other than watching the chicks forage on the beach. Shore plover nest on several beaches, so several observers each day are needed to collect information.

You will need to:

  • sit in a hide for 3 hours by yourself and remain focussed on the task (with a 5 minute break every 30 mins)
  • use a telescope to watch chicks forage on the beach.
Other tasks

Adverse weather events can cause the loss of all nests, so we can't predict how many breeding pairs will have chicks to monitor. If chick monitoring is not possible, other tasks could include:

  • surveillance using traps and tracking tunnels for invading mammalian predators
  • lizard surveys
  • analysis of trail camera images
  • data entry
  • weeding
  • plant nursery work.

What to expect

There are two people jointly leading this field work: an island ranger responsible for logistics and support and the researcher responsible for shore plover data collection and analysis. 

Gear: Food for 1-2 weeks, hiking gear suited to hot weather, cold weather, wind, rain, and mud. Your own sleeping bag, pillow slip, binoculars, and spotting scope if you have them.

Costs: Your primary cost is food (probably about $20 a day). It’s possible to catch a return ferry ride to Auckland ($33 return trip) for shopping and a break, and we aim to facilitate this in the weekends. 

Biosecurity information: Your clothing and other gear must be scrupulously clean when you depart the city for the island, and all your luggage (including food) must be sealed in mouse-proof containers. Your footwear will be checked for soil and seeds prior to departure. Rangitoto and Motutapu islands are a sanctuary for native flora and fauna. The ecosystem is thriving and rebuilding after the removal of nine mammal species. DOC is eradicating a range of exotic plant species. Many invasive pests and pathogens are not found on the islands.

Getting to the island: Each Monday and Friday the DOC boat leaves Bayswater marina and visits Islington Wharf (in the bay between Rangitoto and Motutapu) to ferry staff, contractors, volunteers and supplies to or from the island. There is also a public ferry service that operates between Downtown Auckland and Rangitoto Wharf (some services go via Devonport wharf).

Accommodation: Accomodation is limited. You will share a bunkroom in a house with others. For each 4 week period, we have 2 beds available. These can be filled by 2 people each staying for 4 weeks, 4 people with 2 for each 2 week period, or a combination. 

How to apply

  • Indicate which stint(s) you are available for from the list above. 
  • Tell us the maximum number of weeks you'd like to volunteer on the island. 
  • Fill in our volunteer application form (PDF, 82K) or Word, 994K.
  • Attach a CV outlining your tertiary education, birding experience and field skills.

Email your application materials to

We aim to notify applicants 8 weeks before their preferred period begins. 

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