Earthwise Valley does not make any profit out of the land it owns – we don’t grow any cash crops, we don’t graze cattle on our land, and we don’t log timber to make money.
The bulk of our projects are either to heal the earth, or support the humans who are doing just that. Creating this Centre for Sustainable Living doesn’t yield a benefit that can be counted in dollars, and it certainly doesn’t give a financial profit.
Living in a slightly remote location means some expenses are higher than average: the vehicle costs to haul up supplies and materials, for example. There are also lots of “hidden” costs that you might not think about at first glance - insurances, rates, tax, and so on.
That’s why visitors to the Sanctuary are asked to make a contribution of NZ$595 per week. This covers more than just your food and accommodation – we hope that you don’t compare your stay in the Valley to a stay in a backpacker’s hostel, where you just pay for your food, a bed and a hot shower, and where you are mainly trying to get the best bargain.
Earthwise Valley has a lot more to offer - great friends, a stunning valley which is yours to discover and to make your playground, a place where you can try lots of new things and grow with your achievements.
Although as a charitable trust, the Valley is eligible to receive grants for environmental work, this is only ever given for projects - never overheads or 'core-costs'. We have no funding for the remaining running costs other than contributions from people visiting the Valley – and occasional environmental service contracts.
Please also note we hold 501(c)(3) status in the USA, so American citizens can claim back tax against any contributions made to the Valley. Contact us for further details about this.
What your contribution will cover:
The Valley provides:
- all accommodation, in the Valley and on group trips
- yummy food - often straight from our gardens
- transport from Auckland City/Airport to the Valley
- all internal group travel provided free of charge
- scheduled group activities, including gear hire where necessary (e.g. sea kayaking, multi-day hiking adventures)
- educational instruction and tuition
The following is not included in the full programme contribution:
- personal and luxury food like candy, biscuits, alcohol, dining out
- personal entertainment during free time (however, most of these activities are fairly low-cost)
- in addition to the provided group recreation, other activities can be arranged – such as scuba-diving, surfing, horse-riding – which are additional to the programme cost and are organised with external professional schools/guides
- most volunteers spend a few dollars each week on email, photos, laundry and movies
Any portion of your contribution money not spent on immediate volunteer costs goes towards land-debt repayments, vehicle costs, outreach and communications, pest and weed control, insurance and taxes, equipment, and building maintenance.
At Earthwise we understand that some of those who would like to volunteer for us are unable to make the full financial contribution that we request from volunteers to finance our work. For that reason we have a limited amount of scholarship placements where the Valley will subsidise part or all of the contribution costs.
Because we are looking for a wide range of people to take on a staggering range of projects and tasks, there's a good chance we have a place for you. Here are some things to consider while you apply:
The Bad News
A trip to New Zealand can be expensive. There's absolutely no way we can cover all of the costs (airfare, travel insurance, etc.) that are associated with travel. Almost all of the folks who come to the valley from overseas have spent 6 months or more saving money before they arrive.
We are often happy to help cover living costs for folks who are not able to meet all expenses. However, when we spend the money to cover your costs, that means the rainforest and valley are getting less of what they need.
What does this mean? BE HONEST, with yourself and with us, about what expenses you can cover during your trip. Some folks are unable to meet the full cost but still cover expenses for food and special trips. Other folks cover 75% or 50% of the weekly donation, or make a one time lump payment of whatever they feel they can afford. Please let us know.
Residential Volunteers that have been awarded a full or partial scholarship will often be asked to contribute towards the cost of recreation trips (especially overnight trips, if gear hire is involved or accommodation costs are high), and if places are limited, preference is given to those who have given the full contribution. Scholarship volunteers will also need to cover the cost of their airport transfers, although we are happy to help organise the transport on your behalf.
The Good News
We are looking for a wide variety of folks, and that means you. You don't need to be a Masters student in biology to take on permacultural work. In fact, our most successful folks are those who come here looking to build experience, not share it.
Some of the work we do at the valley is difficult, and does require experience. We are, of course, particularly happy to cover expenses if we feel that a person has an extra skill to offer the valley or the forest. Don't expect the work to be glamorous though - most conservation and sustainability gains come from a massive collection of little things - be prepared for repetition! So consider our scholarship program both need and merit based. Also, preference is generally given to folks who are making a longer commitment: 3 to 6 months or longer!
Please do also be aware that we do have long term positions for those with special skills, some of which are more vital to the Sanctuary than others. We sometimes offer scholarships to someone because of their potential to help us with just one or two big or important projects (GIS Mapping, for example). You may also have skills that fall into three or four different categories - and that still makes you valuable to us.
We don't set our policies in stone. We're happy to be flexible, if you are. As you are joining a community we need to know about your hopes and dreams, as well as your skills and work abilities. It may be the fact that you cook great tofu and can play the guitar that sets you apart.
What does this mean? Be courageous: apply! Tell us all about you, and we'll let you know if the Sanctuary has a place for you at this time.