Wwoofing experiences in New Zealand
During my trip around the world, I got stuck in New Zealand for three months. And three months New Zealand is pretty expensive. In order to travel a bit cheaper, I have decided to do Wwoofing – and that allowed me to stay in New Zealand as the country of my choice.
Wwoofing with or without Working Holiday Visa?
For Wwoofing you need the working holiday visa (or another work visa) in New Zealand – in contrast to Australia and Canada. And I applied for the Working Holiday Visa too. Unfortunately, you only get this visa once in your lifetime. And to waste it for three months of Wwoofing is a pity. But honestly, how high is the likelihood that after my trip around the world I will do another work and travel year abroad, where I will be kept free of extra work?
I could have done work and travel as normal in those three months. But to be honest, I was just too comfortable to open a bank account and get through the whole IRD tax procedure. Wwoofing offers a great alternative. In addition to the Working Holiday Visa you need nothing more to start.
What's the best way to find a Wwoofing job?
An acquaintance made me a little unsure; because he pointed out that there would be far too few jobs in winter.
In fact, the opposite was the case. You just have to know when and where to look for Wwoofing jobs.
The right time to send your application
I have already written my first application from Germany – although Australia was still in front of me as a stopover. The farms have answered me that I should please contact me again, if I would then have time immediately. A few others were already booked for the next half year.
So: There is no right time to apply. Some plan far in advance, the others are more spontaneous. I cannot confirm the stereotype that popular farms are sold out well in advance. I myself have been contacted by the dream of all horse-loving women, whether I would like to accompany group rides.
The right season for Wwoofing
In summertime, many people are traveling in New Zealand. Over the winter, the islands empty themselves slowly. In other words, there are fewer jobs available seasonally, but there are potentially fewer workers available. I myself found a job on a dairy farm and was really looking forward to milking, to learn then that the cows have a winter break. My help has been needed anyway. Be it fixing for fences, taking care of the farm while the farmer is on a motorbike tour or training the new farm dog.
Where do I apply best for a Wwoofing job?
First of all, I tried the cheap way on a free Facebook group (Wwoofing New Zealand). Unfortunately that did not really work, because I was not the only cheap trying girl in New Zealand. I didn’t even receive an answer to my applications there.
So I decided to create a paid account on a website. Since I wanted to go Wwoofing in addition to New Zealand also in Canada, I decided not for the classical Wwoofing platform. This only includes farms in New Zealand. For Canada I would have to open a second account and have to pay the membership fee another time.
With HelpX and Work away, you pay for the post and then have access to farms and homestays worldwide. At a homestay, you work with a family at home instead of on a farm. This can be anything from helping with the kids, to caring for the grandfather, or renovating the house.
Do not put your head in the sand
The first farm was found via HelpX, which organized the return trip to Auckland, where I received another mail. The farm has a family problem, so they could not host me. To be honest, I was pretty freaked out because my application attempts on Facebook did not go well. My friend – who visited me in New Zealand – had just left and I felt incredibly alone and lost.
So it was time to write applications. After five really long days, I got the promise of an alpaca farm near Auckland. And I could arrive directly on the weekend.
My first Wwoofing experience
I took the bus to the agreed station. Here my host family should pick me up. Nervous as I was – after all, I would live with strangers for two weeks and also have to speak English in New Zealand – I drove a bus earlier. When the clock finally hit ten, I paid attention to every passing car. And waited, and waited … Slowly, panic came over me. Would you like to stop hosting me? What if they have forgotten me? Or I waited at the wrong stop?
Here's my tip for you: Let's give you the phone number for such cases. This is much faster than waiting for a reply mail.
I was lucky and after a quick phone call, I learned that they had messed up a bit while canoeing. A few minutes later, they picked me up.
Farm is not farm
I just told you that I went to an alpaca farm. I did not really have much to do with the alpacas. Because the family considered the animals only as a hobby and quite honestly: they are easier to care for than a dog.
That means I spent my working time with a lot of gardening and housework.
When applying, make sure to know where you are applying. Especially the feedbacks of other Wwoofer give you information about your future tasks. I did not care that much in my despair and the family was really nice and lovingly accepted me. However, I tell myself that I can clean at home as well. And I only have three months to go home. I would have much preferred a real farm for the sake of experience. On the other hand, I was able to experience the original Kiwi lifestyle, improve my English skills and have been part of a family.
Which tasks are there to do?
During gardening, home-help and babysitting, there are also very unusual things: A family – where I stayed when the next farm postponed the date of my arrival – just renovated their house, for example. The patches of white paint I still wear today as a souvenir on my clothes.
My last job was exactly what I was looking for: a dairy farm. Since I already spent a voluntary ecological year on a farm in Germany, I found the comparison very interesting. In New Zealand, there are not so many requirements, such as when the manure may be extended or with which device. Nevertheless, the cows are fine. The green pastures also make it easier for the farmer to increase milk production.
How is this working as a single woman traveling with a single man?
I really did worry about that topic. And at a farm I thought for a long time, whether I should go. Here I have been written, namely, if I want to come.
After I've already been told some horror stories of other Wwoofing girls, scared spread. The innumerable, positive feedbacks from the farmer – from couples, friends, to singles of every gender – were there for me to try. Of girls who had to break out of locked rooms in the night, stuck in the radio hole and farmers who boasted how many Wwooferinnen they have already got to bed, I wanted to hear nothing more.
My previous host family calmed me down then. The name of the farmer is known in the area and if anything should be, they would pick me up anytime. That gave me a sense of security.
The farmer picked me up at the bus stop. First impression sympathetic, so I went with you. And that was definitely the right decision. I really had a great time on the farm; the son was there from time to time and soon came also another helper. The farmer was happy with his life and has made no move to impose him on me.
Even though I tell you now that you should not see any danger or ulterior motive behind everything, be careful anyway. I've received a lot of requests from single men who did not have any feedback and could not really describe what my job should be. One of them wrote me that I should definitely take a bikini; he has a lake nearby, where I could go swimming.
Pay attention to the feedback from others
Who are they from? Do they agree? Can something be read between the lines? Are any available?
Then find out if you will have cell phone coverage in the area, if there is a pay phone or even a bus stop within walking distance. If you're traveling by car, so much the better.
Let someone know who knows where you are. Who can sound the alarm if you do not reply within an agreed time.
And to reassure you, the Wwoofer who have had something have not written feedback to the farmer, but reported him. He was then removed from the platform. This means that the operators of the platforms are behind only having registered legitimate hosts.
Like, you do not eat meat? We live here on a farm!
Yes, my eating habits have actually led to the problem. I always mention in the letter rub that I am a vegetarian and have also described this in my profile as you often cook and eat together with the family. Anyway, the communication with the cook went awry.
Clarify beforehand which diets are desired. Many farms are already writing if they accept vegetarians or even vegans. If not, accept that. The family I had the problem with is fully employed and habitually eats a lot of meat – because they make it themselves. They just did not want to cook an extra sausage for me. But since I am very straightforward and eat only side dishes if necessary or take care of myself, everything went well again for me.
When is Wwoofing yield?
Wwoofing means that you work for accommodation and food. You do not earn any money, which is why you normally have to work four hours a day. This varies a little from farm to farm. Some farms offer you to work one full day and get another for free.
Once I was contacted by an absolute dream job. Working on a horse farm. This makes the heart of every horse girl beat faster. The negative aftertaste came when I was told the working hours. 8 hours a day for 6 days a week. Moment, That's more than when I worked in Germany in a week as a full-time employee, for accommodation, food, my car and incidentally the savings rates for the trip around the world. As much as I wanted to work with horses, I do not take advantage of them. I like to work more voluntarily if I enjoy my work. But under these conditions, I decided then yet for another farm. And believe me, that was the right decision. I then fulfilled my horse dream in another country.
For whom is Wwoofing suitable?
I chose Wwoofing as a cheap travel method because of my transit, which brings the country and the people in a different way.
Even if you are making money and traveling in New Zealand, Wwoofing may be suitable for you too. A couple worked with me, who just arrived and had to rebuild their van. On the farm they had tools, space, time and have been taken care of. In the meantime, they have quietly been looking for a decent job.
I myself have used Wwoofing to get away from traveling. That will be quite exhausting in the long run. You long for everyday life and are happy to spend a few weeks in the same place. I also had time to process all my impressions and to feed my blog with content. Also, I am writing this article during a Wwoofing stay.
Wwoofing can also help you find a job. A farm picks up Wwoofer and those who are good get a paid job. In addition, the farmers know each other and recommend you to others or have tips for you, where you can find a job.
What experiences have you already had with Wwoofing?
If you have already tried Wwoofing in New Zealand or any other part of the world, we will be happy if you share your experience with us. Which portal did you use? What were your activities? What did you like or not? Thanks for your comment below this post.
About the author
On a world tour since March 2019, Alexa spent three months in New Zealand. Telling stories through words and photos has always been her passion, which she now lives out on her blog Weltenwandlerin.