Southland volunteer information

Find out how to apply for projects, what to expect, and view acceptance and cancellation details for Southland volunteer projects.

Download Southland and Otago projects in a brochure (PDF, 4,112K)

Applying for projects

When considering your project options, take into account the fitness required, your availability, the work conditions, and personal commitments that may impact on your choice.

Complete the online application form.


Confirmation of your booking will be sent to you when you have been accepted for your conservation project. If applying several months in advance, notification of acceptance may not occur until closer to the project but every effort will be made to notify you in a reasonable time frame. Many projects are oversubscribed and ballots will be conducted in these circumstances. Due to the popularity of volunteer projects we are unable to guarantee that all applicants will be accepted for a project.

Any changes or additional details of the project will be advised.

If applying as a couple or friends, please specify this on your application form.


If you are unable to attend a project, please notify the Volunteer Coordinator as soon as possible. Last minute cancellations may lead to project cancellation.

Full refunds will be available to volunteers who notify the Department of Conservation a minimum of four weeks prior to project departure.

Cancellation within four weeks of project departure will not be eligible for a refund.

Extreme weather conditions (flooding, snow etc.) may make it impractical to carry out the project as defined in the booklet. In such cases, every effort will be made to provide an alternative project. If this is not possible, we reserve the right to cancel the project.  A full refund will be made in this instance.

What to expect

  • Accommodation is arranged, usually basic backcountry huts or equivalent (outdoor toilets, NO shower, coal/gas cooking facilities) or camping in tents.
  • Transport will be arranged from the pick-up location and to and from the work site.
  • Food and cooking utensils are provided unless otherwise stated. Usually everybody helps prepare meals.
  • Equipment and tools are generally provided unless otherwise stated.
  • Meeting people and enjoying their company is an important part of Conservation Volunteer Projects. Time may be given to recreation and visiting local places of interest.
  • Most activities are outdoors and require reasonable fitness and self motivation. Leaders have ultimate discretion of suitability of applicants for projects.
  • Fitness level guide:
    Low - Capable of tramping with pack up to 4 hours.
    Medium - Capable of tramping with pack up to 4 - 8 hours.
    High - Capable of tramping with pack up to 8 hours plus.

What to bring

A full equipment list will be issued prior to the commencement of the project.

Our volunteer goals

  • Conservation volunteers are contributing to increased gains in the conservation of New Zealand’s natural, historic and cultural heritage.
  • An increasing number and variety of people are engaged in conservation volunteering.
  • Conservation volunteers are increasing their understanding of and commitment to conservation.
  • Conservation volunteers are increasing their skills and confidence to carry out conservation work.
  • Conservation volunteers find working with DOC a rewarding and highly valued experience.

All projects are subsidised by the Department of Conservation.

Other volunteer opportunities


Southland and Otago Volunteer Coordinator

Murihiku / Invercargill Office
Phone:      +64 3 211 2400
Full office details

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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