Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project - volunteer ranger

DOC is currently seeking suitably experienced volunteers for an exciting volunteer opportunity working with DOC rangers doing work like trapping and monitoring that supports the aims of the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project.

We can take up to two volunteers per month.


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

The opportunity is available from the start of September 2014 to the end of April 2015.

Ideally, we are looking for a four week commitment so you can build up a good range of skills and have a meaningful experience.  However, we can be flexible around the range of two weeks to six weeks.

The December roster is three and a half weeks due to Christmas.


You can help as a volunteer ranger in the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project (RNRP). Volunteers will be working alongside DOC rangers.

Taking place in Nelson Lakes National Park, RNRP is a long term ecosystem restoration project. It is based in 5000 hectares of alpine beech forest alongside Lake Rotoiti.

The project has a strong focus on ecological science, and in sharing lessons learnt. This volunteer opportunity allows a direct insight into current best-practice species work. It offers a unique experience working with innovative landscape-scale pest control techniques.

"I had a really fantastic time. I felt useful, included and found it well run. I was really pleased with the amount and variety of work I was able to partake in, and with the level of independence I was given to complete it.

I was really pleased with the staff's thoughtfulness and help in enabling me to do some of the 'most wanted' jobs." – Emma Bardsley (NZ), RNRP volunteer ranger 2012/13.

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, cats and possums)
  • Native species monitoring (kea, robins, whio)
  • Wasp and rat poisoning
  • Kiwi health checks

Most work is undertaken during regular working hours though there is a possibility of overnight trips outside the RNRP area in some periods.

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

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

What to expect

Fitness and skills required: Volunteers will need to 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 with navigating in the bush, off track, with a map and compass and to 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.

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.

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

Note: This is a limited opportunity and preference is given to those who are studying in the field of ecological science, or who have undertaken other species and trapping work.

"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 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

To register your interest, fill out the online application form.


If you have specific questions, contact:

Rotoiti / Nelson Lakes Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 521 1806
Fax:   +64 3 521 1896
Address:   View Road
St Arnaud
Postal Address:   PO Box 55
St Arnaud 7053

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Find out more

Learn more

Naturespace - ecological restoration groups in your area


To find out how you can get involved in conservation activities near you, contact your local DOC office