Volunteering in the adventure capital of the world? Sweet as, bro! But don’t let the resort town vibe fool you. For volunteers in Queenstown, there is a world to be discovered that has less to do with upscale hotels and more to do with muddy gumboots. Nestled beneath the aptly-named Remarkables, volunteering in this chilly South Island town is a win-win; feel good about the work you’re doing while experiencing one of the most incredible cities that the country — and world — has to offer. If snowy peaks, colorful nights out, and days spent preserving the wilderness appeal to you, volunteer abroad in Queenstown!
Ways to Volunteer in Queenstown
People who know Queenstown know two things: it’s indescribably beautiful, and there are countless opportunities to get your adrenaline rushing. Volunteering in Queenstown offers the chance to lend your time to protecting the environment, or serving the community, while dodging (or maybe joining) the daredevils who have come to fling themselves off cliffs or out of airplanes.
Popular causes and program types in Queenstown. For green thumbs and aspiring botanists, you will have truly found your Mecca. Consider programs in conservation, environment, trail building, tree planting, eco-tourism … the list goes on. By the way, no need to worry about the creepy crawlies while working for these causes — New Zealand is no Australia. There is only one endemic venomous spider in the country, and the rest are harmless. Can we get a slow clap for Aotearoa?
Queenstown also has volunteer opportunities for those less inclined to clean dirt from under their fingernails each night. If you’d prefer to volunteer more closely with civilization, consider programs in areas such as community development and youth development. There is also the unique choice of anthropology, perfect for those particularly interested in supporting the indigenous Maori people.
Short term volunteer programs. If you plan on entering New Zealand on a tourist visa, look at programs that are 9-12 weeks in duration. While volunteering in Queenstown, you may struggle to find a placement that has a span shorter than three months, but they do exist, and will surely include more affordable program fees. Plus, a shorter duration placement will leave you more time to explore the country, or give you the chance to volunteer in another city!
Long term volunteer projects. For any volunteer in Queenstown looking to spend up to six months in Queenstown, program fees may be daunting, but the rewards will surely be priceless. When volunteering for six months to a year, you will start to see the difference your time and effort makes. You will make a deeper impact, develop more lasting friendships, and you might even start to feel like a true Kiwi yourself!
Life in Queenstown for Volunteers
New Zealand is a famed backpacker hotspot, and therefore attracts visitors from all over the world. Depending on how much time you spend volunteering in Queenstown, you will leave with more friends from more countries than you can count, and you may very well have a couch to surf on every continent … except maybe Antarctica.
Accommodation for volunteers will usually be sorted out in your program, and it will most likely include campsites, hostels, or a mixture of the two. Queenstown boasts some of the best hostels in the country, so no worries, mate.
Volunteers looking to blow off steam in town will be glad to know the nightlife in Queenstown can hold its own. You will find long lines and packed bars every night of the week, and a bar tab that may knock you off your feet before the Tui does. Just remember a late night out definitely won’t do wonders for your early morning on the mountainside!
Queenstown may seem isolated on a map, but volunteers will enjoy easy access to surrounding towns, like Wanaka and Glenorchy, via affordable bus services. Plus, there’s a handy dandy airport right in Queenstown if you want to spend a weekend away from your volunteer project and explore Auckland or Wellington.
GoAbroad Insider Tips
Be mindful of your savings, always. New Zealand is notoriously expensive, and that only increases in a resort town like Queenstown. If you’re interested in a bungy jump or skydive, you’ll want to make sure you have a little extra in the bank. Pricing is unforgiving of those without an income. Luckily, program fees will cover all of your basic necessities.
For those from the northern hemisphere, don’t forget that seasons are flip-flopped in the southern hemisphere. Summer up north means winter in Queenstown, which includes snowy weather, rain, and freezing temperatures. Plan accordingly!
Finally, New Zealand is a smooth transition for Westerners and first time volunteers. New Zealand is a developed country, so all the amenities you’re used to at home will be waiting for you while volunteering abroad in Queenstown. The city (and country) are remarkably safe, so even though your parents will still worry, they definitely don’t have to.
By the way … Fergburger. Know it. Love it. This local restaurant lives up to the hype. Check it out after a long day volunteering in the great outdoors, and hit up Fergbaker next door to soothe your sweet tooth.
Queenstown’s reputation precedes it for good reason. No matter how much time you spend volunteering here, you will leave feeling both fulfilled and bewildered, and with a trove of stories to tell. Keen?
Keep reading! You’ll love our comprehensive guide on volunteering abroad in New Zealand!