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Work Exchange Programmes

Although the focus of many who come to work in New Zealand is to earn a bit of extra cash, for others it is all about the experience. There are a number of opportunities for what is effectively, in all cases, work exchange i.e. you offer a few hours a day of your time and energy and typically, in return, you\\\'ll receive free meals and accommodation.

As has been mentioned elsewhere on this website, any work undertaken in New Zealand for which you receive either money or benefits in return requires a Working Holiday Visa. If in any doubt as to what constitutes a benefit check out

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms

Once known as Working Weekends on Organic Farms and Willing Workers on Organic Farms (or WWOOFing for short), these placements offer volunteers firsthand experience in organic and ecologically sound growing methods on farms all over the world. There is no centralised governing body for WWOOF so each country which participates in the scheme has their own self-legislated organisation. However, the ethos is the same across the board and the aim is to present some standardisation of practice throughout.

The NZ WWOOF scheme also currently includes host properties which are not organic but offer cultural lifestyle exchanges within the parameters of social, humanitarian and conservation projects. Activities might include building, crafts, animal care and tourism.

The typical working day in New Zealand on a WWOOF scheme is between four to five hours but it is up to you and your host to agree exactly on hours and conditions. Your reward is the opportunity of gaining a variety of skills, plenty of learning of the 'University of Life' kind and all meals and accommodation. Most of the placements will see you living with your host family and fully immersed within their day to day life. Sometimes, but more rarely, separate living quarters are offered.

Some WWOOFers have just a few days to commit to their chosen project while others stay for a few weeks after an initial trial period. The minimum stay is typically three days. If more than one farm takes your fancy you can move from one to the other and try out a whole range of different experiences.

Credit: Luc Allain
Credit: Luc Allain

The current annual membership for the New Zealand branch of WWOOF is NZ$40 and you can either join online or through an agent. This membership gives you access to profiles, photos, maps, contact details, calendars and previous workers' feedback. See for full details. 

Farm Helpers in New Zealand (FHiNZ)

New Zealand's very own take on the WWOOF scheme is FHiNZ with the difference that all kinds of farm work are included here in exchange for food and accommodation. The aim – to offer visitors a unique way of experiencing Kiwi farming life firsthand and live as part of the family for their stay.

Placements range from days to months and quite what type of work you'll be doing will depend on what type of farm you've opted for, the season and whether or not you have any farming experience. Of the approximate 350 farms currently participating in New Zealand, the types included are sheep, beef, dairy, pigs, goats, deer and horses with farm sizes ranging from hobby projects to massive holdings. Working days are typically between four to six hours and sometimes some of the work involved might include such things as gardening, household help or child-minding.

On the website you can browse the farms by region and scroll through some FAQs to get more information of what the scheme involves. There is no joining fee but you must purchase a booklet – currently priced at NZ$25 - to get access to the details of participating farms and their contact details. You can do this online at or pick up a booklet from a variety of countrywide locations listed on the website.

Other Work Exchanges

Although WWOOF and FHiNZ are the two most well known organisations there are almost endless opportunities for work exchange placements all over the country. These might be helping out at a hostel, connected with the tourism industry in some other way or some random project you get talking to some guy in the pub about.

Typically this type of work exchange is found by by word-of-mouth, flyers on hostel notice boards, or the aforementioned guy-in-the-pub type scenario. There is also a worldwide organisation known as 'Help Exchange' – which has a database of projects currently offered - with a New Zealand section - on their website. Or you can check out the Work & Jobs section on backpackerboard which focusses solely on New Zealand based jobs that are aimed purely at backackers & travellers. Both list sub menus for country regions and 'type of work' categories, the latter of which includes boats, business, farm-stays, hostels, home-stay and miscellaneous where you could find just about anything imaginable. Projects range from the fun to the extraordinary and the usual payment of food and accommodation in exchange for a few hours of work every day is the norm.

On Help Exchamge, non-members can browse the placements but you won't be able to see any contact details unless you pay the two yearly fee of 20 Euros. backpackerboard NZ is free to use.

Find out more...

WWOOF - Willing Workers on Organic Farms - Living & learning the organic way. WWOOF provides the opportunity for you to live and experience lif
Help Exchange - Volunteer work in exchange for free farmstay accommodation and food (bed and board) on farms, backpa
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