October to May: Work with DOC rangers as part of the Biodiversity team at Nelson Lakes. Positions for 2018/2019 are now full.

We're looking for suitably experienced volunteers to work with DOC rangers on tasks such as trapping,monitoring and weed control.

"I really appreciated the opportunity to come from Sydney and get involved in a completely different environment. Having the chance to undertake conservation work in such a beautiful part of the country with a wonderful team of people, who were all more than willing to share their knowledge and skills, was an experience I can't recommend enough. I went home feeling so much more committed to conservation work and I'm looking forward to coming back again soon!" Millie Raven (Australia), RNRP volunteer 2015.


Monitoring kiwi locations from Lake Rotoiti. Photo Gareth Rapley.
Monitoring kiwi locations from Lake Rotoiti

October to May.


Preference is given to those who are studying in the field of ecological science, or who have undertaken other species and trapping work. Ideally, we are looking for a four week commitment so you can build up a good range of skills and have a meaningful experience.

Students and internships

Unfortunately our staff are not able to support internships or monitoring practical work for academic programmes (particularly for universities outside New Zealand). 


Assisting with kiwi health checks Photo: Millie Raven
Assisting with kiwi health checks

The Nelson Lakes biodiversity team is based out of St Arnaud and carries out fauna and flora work across a range of conservation land. Fauna work involves pest control and native species monitoring with most work centred around the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project.

This mainland island site at Lake Rotoiti tests pest management techniques and much of your work as a volunteer will be in this project.

Flor work involves weed control across the district in a variety of habitat types as well as native flora monitoring. As a volunteer you will gain experience in both fauna and flora work as well as contributing to conservation in the Nelson Lakes District.

Wasp warning

Wasps are very prevalent in the Nelson Lakes area in the summer; so wasp stings are a real possibility for anyone around the village or walking in the bush.

Keep this in mind when applying for this opportunity, and note that St Arnaud is over an hour from the nearest medical assistance.

South Island Robin being fitted with bands.
South Island robins are fitted with bands for monitoring 


The work is varied and could include:

  • predator trapping (for stoats and possums)
  • monitoring of trapping effort (tracking tunnels)
  • native species monitoring (kea, robins, whio)
  • helping in one of the largest wasp control operations in the world
  • monitoring native flora
  • weed control

Most work is undertaken during regular working hours although overnight trips outside the RNRP are possible.

The work involves working with rangers and alone, handling dead animals and putting toxins into bait stations.

See Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project for detail on some of the work that you might be involved in.

"This project was wonderful. I enjoyed the jobs, the work load wasn't too much and everyone was so kind and helpful. I wish that I could have done it for longer." Matt Edwards (USA), RNRP volunteer ranger 2013.

What to expect

Fitness and skills required: Volunteers must have a high level of fitness and well-developed backcountry tramping skills.

Lake Rotoiti from St Arnaud Range.
Lake Rotoiti from St Arnaud Range

Experience required: You need to be experienced and comfortable:

  • navigating in the bush
  • being off formed tracks
  • using a map and compass
  • have completed multi-day trips in the backcountry or have done similar work.

You may be required to work for short periods of time unsupervised so you must be confident in the bush unaccompanied.

Accommodation: Shared bach-type accommodation is provided free in St Arnaud for the duration of the volunteer period. You supply your own food and transport to St Arnaud.

What to bring

Tramping boots, warm tramping clothing including wet weather gear, personal overnight gear for accommodation (including sleeping bag, pillow).

A full gear list is supplied with information pack on acceptance. All safety equipment and any transport required on the job is supplied.

How to apply

Complete the online application form when available, to register your interest. 


If you have specific questions, contact:

Volunteer coordinator


Rotoiti / Nelson Lakes Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 521 1806
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   View Road
St Arnaud
Postal Address:   PO Box 55
St Arnaud 7053
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