Rotomairewhenua/Blue Lake
Image: Gabi Czoma | ©


Volunteer for a week as a hut warden at Sabine, West Sabine, and Blue Lake huts.


Check out our other hut warden and camp host volunteer opportunities on the Nelson/Tasman volunteer pages.


December to April. Applications for the 2020/2021 season are full. 


Each volunteer period runs from Tuesday to Tuesday. After a full induction, the volunteer is taken to Lake Rotoroa and take a boat ride to Sabine Hut. The itinerary from this point is described below. Times shown are approximate walking times to each hut or destination.

Hut warden itinerary:


The primary role of a hut warden is to help visitors enjoy their stay. The wardens:

  • check hut passes 
  • give information to trampers
  • maintain radio contact with Nelson Lakes Visitor Centre
  • ensure the hut, toilet and hut surrounds are kept clean and tidy
  • undertake some minor hut maintenance as required.

What to expect

This volunteer opportunity is for one person.

Age restriction: You must be at least 20 years old.

Accommodation and facilities: Staff quarters are available at West Sabine and Blue Lake Huts. These have bunks and cooking facilities (gas supplied) but no separate ablutions. The Sabine Hut doesn't have staff quarters so wardens stay in the main hut with other trampers. Free shared accommodation provided in St Arnaud for the nights before and after the volunteer duty.

Food: You need to bring all food with you for the entire length of your duty.

Fitness level required: You need a high level of fitness, with the ability to walk for 5 hours or more over uneven terrain with a heavy pack.

Experience required: You'll be experienced in New Zealand backcountry tramps and fully equipped with your own tramping clothing and equipment. Preference is given to those with a working knowledge of the Nelson Lakes area. A first aid certificate is helpful.

Skills required: You need to be fluent in English, have a practical outlook, and relate to a wide range of people in a friendly and informative manner.

Wasps: Wasps can be a real problem later in the summer. People with allergies must bring their own medications (epipens, anakits or other medication).

What to bring

You'll receive a factsheet if your application is successful. The information on the factsheet includes what to bring with you, details about your responsibilities and accommodation in St Arnaud.

What will be provided

At an induction session just before you leave for your roster, a DOC ranger will ensure you know your role, issue you with the necessary equipment and make sure you have read, understood and signed any health and safety information.

For more information about the track and huts, view the Travers-Sabine Circuit page.

How to apply

Complete the online application form

Due to compliance requirements with New Zealand law, DOC is required to police vet every volunteer.

The police vetting covers a three-year period, and if you are volunteering for DOC in multiple sites you only need to get it done once. If you have already been checked by any New Zealand agency within the last 12 months, including the time you will volunteer with us, we don’t need to redo it, but will require certification.

If you bring a partner or friend, they also need to be police vetted to be included on the volunteer rosters.

This is a very popular volunteer opportunity. We can't guarantee that you will be selected.

What happens next

  1. We’ll shortlist applicants and email you the children’s worker safety check for you to complete.
  2. We’ll contact you about an interview time – the interview will be with a DOC staff member and it’s also an opportunity for you to ask questions about the role.
  3. We’ll talk to your referees.
  4. We’ll request NZ police vetting – this takes around 20 days.
  5. A panel of DOC staff with technical expertise in this area will assess all the material provided.
  6. We get the approval for you to volunteer and then work with you to find dates that suit you and complete your induction.

Children's worker safety check

The reason for the children’s worker safety check is because this volunteer position works with children. Everyone working with children needs to do the children’s worker safety check. It helps keep everyone safe and makes sure we’re meeting our requirements under the Children’s Act 2014.


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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