A volunteer sets a trap.
Image: DOC


Applications for the 2024/25 summer season will open early July.

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

“I really enjoyed the full immersion approach at Nelson Lakes; the variety of tasks and responsibilities of the role, learning some of the context of the research being undertaken, connecting to the region whilst getting out and amongst beautiful views, and feeling valued as part of a friendly and motivated bio team.” Thea Blank, November 2022


The 2024/2025 season dates are:

  • 29 October – 22 November 2024
  • 25 November – 20 December 2024
  • 13 January – 7 February 2025
  • 10 February – 7 March 2025
  • 10 March – 4 April 2025


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).


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.

Flora 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. 


The work is varied and could include:

  • predator trapping (for stoats and possums)
  • monitoring of trapping effort (tracking tunnels)
  • native species monitoring (kea, kiwi, bats)
  • 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.

What to expect

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

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 will 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 will need to supply your own bedding and towels. 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 an information pack on acceptance. All safety equipment and any transport required for the job are supplied.

How to apply

Applications for the 2024/25 summer season will open early July.


If you have specific questions, contact:

Volunteer coordinator

Email: ramitchell@doc.govt.nz

Rotoiti/Nelson Lakes Visitor Centre
Phone +64 3 521 1806
Email nelsonlakesvc@doc.govt.nz
Address View Road
St Arnaud 7072
Hours See visitor centre hours
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