Frequently Asked Questions
We hope that this frequently asked questions page will give you a bit more detail about the nitty gritty of Valley life and help you with many of the things you might be wondering about. If there is something else you want to know that isn't covered here, you can get in touch with us by using the details on our contact page.
If I am accepted to volunteer in the Valley and then cancel will I get my money back?
Can I fund-raise towards the donation?
What is included in my contribution?
What additional costs should I expect?
Do you accept WWOOFers?
Where are you?
What is the weather like?
When can I volunteer?
How long can I volunteer for?
Can I extend or reduce my stay once I am at the Valley?
Will I gain University Credit?
Can I work on my own project?
What is the age range of participants?
During my stay in the Valley, can I take time off to visit friends or relatives in other parts of NZ?
Can I still volunteer even if I don't have existing sustainability skills?
Where do I sleep?
What is the food like?
Who does the cooking?
Do I get free time?
What can I do in my free time?
What must I pack and what should stay at home? What clothing and equipment should I bring?
Can I bring music/instruments/music players?
Can I bring my mobile phone?
Is there anything I am not allowed to use?
What toiletries should I bring?
Can I have visitors/guests?
The Valley’s main financial concern is the hosting and entertaining of residential volunteers. We can fundraise for a big portion of the required sustainability resources, but the costs of hosting people in a remote location like this have to be covered by the volunteers' contribution. We simply have no other funding for this, and make no money out of our sustainability work that could in return fund the volunteers' costs. Once you have accepted our offer of a residential placement and paid your contribution, this money is treated as a donation, and has become part of the budget for the period. This budget is a tight balancing act between the amount of contributions and the number of volunteers we can host at any given time. Consequently, your contribution cannot be refunded.
Yes! Some volunteers are able to fundraise for all or part of their contribution. This is legitimate since you are carrying out sustainability and conservation work that would not be completed without your assistance.
Food, accommodation, recreation trips (apart from optional high end activities that are listed under the "your contribution" section on the "volunteering" page), and transport to Earthwise Valley from Auckland.
Most volunteers choose to use a bit of extra spending money per week on things like laundry, internet cafés, the occasional takeaway, alcohol, and phoning home. It’s up to you to set your own budget for this.
We do, although nearly all of our volunteers make a financial contribution when they participate in our programme, simply because – unlike most other organic farms who sell some form of produce – the Valley doesn't make a dime out of the land it owns. We don't grow any cash crops, don't log the forest, don't graze cattle and don't dig the ground up for gold to make a living, in fact quite to the contrary, we have to serve a mortgage in order to protect this Valley from being abused.
However, we will sometimes accept WWOOF-volunteers on an unpaid basis when this meets the needs of Earthwise Valley. Acceptance as WWOOFers on a non-paying basis represents a scholarship. Scholarship volunteers are expected to bring good work spirit and strong existing skills to the Valley. We typically accept 10-15 WWOOFers a year: usually those with exceptional experience in organic gardening or a key skill in building, renewable energies, or similar.
Please answer the following questions when you enquire to us about volunteering at TVS:
- How long would you like to stay at Earthwise (min. 3 week commitment) and when would you arrive?
- What work are you interested in?
- Are you interested in organic gardening?
- Are you willing to meet some expenses (typically food & supplies run at NZ$160 a week per person) while here?
- Are you comfortable with vegetarian cooking? Flexible with your food tastes?
- Are you happy to share cooking and cleaning duties?
- Can you sleep in a tent if necessary?
- Are you willing to work 7-8 hour workdays, 4 days a week?
- Do you have any experience in green building and gardening?
So if you wish to participate in our programme (and we hope you do!) then we need you to apply and tell us something about yourself. The best way to get in touch is to drop us an email.
Take a look at our map. You can zoom out to have a look at where we are in New Zealand.
|changeable - clear crisp days, with sudden storms, fresh flowers & grateful wildlife||0-25 degrees celcius/ 50 to 77 fahrenheit|
|sun can be baking hot, river swimming is great, forest dry underfoot||15-30 degrees celcius/ 59 to 86 fahrenheit|
|wonderful stable periods of continuous sunshine, ground softening, forest glistening with dew||5-25 degrees celcius/ 41 to 77 fahrenheit|
|rainy & misty, raging river, pounding waterfalls, cold nights and some cold days, too; cozy wood fires, and hot soup often||0-18 degrees celcius/ 32 to 64 fahrenheit|
Take this with a pinch of salt: like any island climate, New Zealand is hugely affected by the ocean - we can have 'shirt-off' hot days, or damn cold weather any day of the year.
Our residential volunteer programme runs year-round.
Your programme can last as little as 6 weeks and up to 3 months or more. When you complete your application form you will need to be flexible with your dates and duration so we can easily fit you in to our programme. Please be aware that all placements will usually commence on a Saturday. You may wish to arrive in New Zealand a few days prior to the start of your programme so you are well rested. We can send you information on hostels or hotels in Auckland.
We are also looking for longer-term skilled volunteers that can commit to a longer placement from 3 months up.
You may be able to stay longer, subject to availability. You will have to negotiate the conditions for your stay as early as possible. If you decide to leave the Valley early, no part of your contribution can be refunded, as explained above.
For those students who are able to negotiate with your college for credit for your residential volunteer placement, we are very willing to act as field supervisors and support you with your negotiation.
There are opportunities for volunteers to carry out individual projects, or collect data towards a thesis. Our main requirement is that your project fits easily into our normal working schedules. Please consult with the project coordinator well in advance of your project phase to discuss your ideas.
Earthwise accepts volunteers over 18 and there is no upper age limit. The majority of residential volunteers are 18-30, but age is not as important as tolerance and a willingness to cooperate with others.
Generally speaking, yes. However, we prefer volunteers to minimise their outward travel, since we work as a team and play as a team - so if you miss one of our recreation trips, we will be sad for you to miss out on it, and if you go away while the team works on a project, we will miss your good energy and it might not seem fair to the other team members. It might be better to organise those visits for the time before or after your stay in the Valley, if possible.
However, we do understand the need to have a break, especially for long-term volunteers (>10 weeks), and will try to accommodate your needs. We need at least 2 weeks notice if you wish to go away for a week, and at least 4 days notice if you plan to go for a couple of days. Please understand that we can't refund parts of your contribution for time that you spent outside of the Valley.
Definitely! All you need is a genuine interest in sustainability (even if it is non-glamorous work!), good spirit, enthusiasm and the willingness to laugh about yourself. We will teach you all you need to know!
ELFNZ has established a beautiful house set in rainforest just 5mins from the Valley. This is our main HQ and when we travel to other locations - for projects and adventure trips - we'll be sleeping in cabins, tents, mountain huts, island lodges and rented houses. Typically you will be sharing a room or tent with a 1-3 other people. DO contact us in advance if you wish to have a solo space or are traveling with a partner you wish to share with.
Food at the Valley is biased towards good health. We encourage fresh, raw and organic veggies, and an increasing amount of our food is grown in our own gardens. There are no strict dietary requirements here, we do eat meat occasionally, but we cater for vegetarians and vegans as well.
Some typical meals include: veggie stir fry, roasted potatoes and baked vegetables, home baked bread, veggie stew, pizzas, lasagnes, lentil- and bean-dishes, big fresh salads, avocado sandwiches, home made tortillas and chapattis, pasta, brown rice or quinoa, veggie curry, pancakes, tofu... and lots and lots of apples, kiwis, feijoas, avocados, oranges, and sometimes even passionfruit.
Residential volunteers in “food teams” do all the cooking. This means everyone cooks lunch and dinner plus washes up with 2-3 others every third day. This gives everybody two out of three days free of chores and keeps everybody inspired to create yummy food when it’s their turn. Each volunteer is responsible for making their own breakfast and cleaning up after themselves.
Yes! One day in every four is allocated as a free day. Also, if you do not wish to participate in a recreational day trip you may choose to have free time instead. If you are not cooking, there will also be a little bit of free time before dinner and after lunch.
'Re-creating self' and relaxing are an important part of the Earthwise Valley experience. Whether getting outdoors: walking, swimming, photography, climbing trees, beach time, or staying indoors: reading, writing, meditation, yoga, board games, art, trying out a new wholesome recipe – we encourage people to pursue personal growth. On organised recreation days, we will offer certain activities to the volunteers.
For equipment and clothing check out the equipment list, on the application page.
Yes! Instruments are always welcomed, and feel free to bring along CD’s or any MP3 players/ipods.
Yes. However we ask you to have your phone switched off during project and meal times. You may or may not get network coverage while you are in the Valley, depending on your service.
We minimise the use of anything with a heating element as these items tend to use a great deal of power. Therefore we ask you not to use a hairdryer or iron, and we don't have hot water jugs.
Please be aware that any toiletry products you use will end up in the ecosystem or the grey water system. Therefore we ask you to bring and use only biodegradable soaps, shampoos, detergents and toiletries.
Generally yes, but do check with us first.