If you’re thinking about doing a Workaway in New Zealand, Wwoofing or Helpx then this post should interest you. If you have no clue what I am on about and think Wwoofing is a typo, let me explain! Workaway, Wwoofing and Helpx are programs that enable people to travel the world on a budget, while doing some good. You volunteer with families in exchange for accommodation and food and in doing so, immerse yourself in local culture, save money and make friends! Sounds good, right?
In 2017 I did my first Workaway in New Zealand, on a dairy farm a stones throw from Mt. Taranaki. Despite being a little apprehensive before hand (was I really going to enjoy working on a farm?) I had an amazing experience and now encourage everyone to give Workaway a go. So if you are wondering how to apply, what to expect once there or are interested in my Workaway experience then keep reading!
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WHAT ARE WORKAWAY, WWOOFING AND HELPEX?
As I said, each of these programs enable you to travel by working for local families or community projects in exchange for accommodation and food. There is a huge range of volunteer opportunities. Not all will be farm work and the amount of time you’re expected to work varies place to place. Wwoofing stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms so obviously that will be a little more farm orientated! But all three sites are super easy to browse and you can filter places out according to your preferences.
HOW TO GET STARTED
With Workaway and Helpx you have to pay to have a profile to then contact people looking for volunteers. You can have a couples profile which is what my friend Jess and I did as we were backpacking around New Zealand together. This made signing up half the price as we split it. Plus the one profile covers the whole world. With Wwoofing, each country seems to have a separate website which you have to pay for separately. It is a bit of a faff but we went with Workaway anyway as it had more opportunities for New Zealand at the time.
You should almost try to sell yourself on your profile although most people wont expect you to have any experience. Once it is set up you can start sending out messages to places you like the look of, detailing the dates your available etc. It is pretty relaxed so don’t worry too much about what you say, just be friendly and you’ll find somewhere.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN THERE
Most places expect around 4-6 hours work per day, 5 days a week. Obviously this varies but don’t expect to be let off easy, you have to earn your keep! That being said, the family we stayed with were very relaxed. They were happy for us to leave and explore the area if we wanted. You can usually get a pretty good idea of what hosts are like by reading their profiles and reviews from previous volunteers.
We really got stuck in to life on the dairy farm and were given lots of independence and responsibility from the get go. It was a little daunting (didn’t want to loose a cow etc). But we turned out to be pretty capable cow girls. We helped milk the cows, fed the calves which was definitely the best bit, looked after the kids (human not goat), cooked dinner some nights, helped build fences, drove tractors and turned soil for vegetables among other things. All fun and games!
WHY I RECOMMEND DOING A WORKAWAY
There really is no better way to learn about a culture than by living and working with its locals. You get to experience their day to day life, do things you would never have done otherwise and all for free through these programs. So, I find no reason not to recommend doing one. Even if it’s just for a week as part of a longer backpacking trip, it is worth doing!
I had an amazing time on my Workaway in New Zealand and learnt a lot I would never have known about the dairy industry. It is a big part of life for many New Zealanders (it’s the second biggest export sector in NZ). Where I stand ethically in relation to the industry is a whole other kettle of fish and I wont start on that now! But I do hope you enjoyed this post and found it helpful. Have you ever done a Workaway, Wwoofing or Helpx? If so, where? I’d love to know.