What? A New Zealand must do?! Yes, you read that correctly! Despite “New Zealand must do” usually being used to describe an incredible hike or a bungy jump, volunteering on a farm in exchange for food and accommodation should be a must do for backpackers (and we are rolling with it). It’s all part of the working holiday experience in New Zealand, which is a stand out experience for many backpackers during their time here.
WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms and it is huge in New Zealand. Working holidaymakers can stay with a WWOOFing host and get free food in exchange for about 2-3 hours of work per day, 5 days a week. You can read all you need to know about WWOOFing in New Zealand here. (Be aware that you must hold a valid work visa to WWOOF in New Zealand).
So to get that more authentic New Zealand experience, add WWOOFing to your bucket list. If you need further convincing, just read the reasons below. That’s why we wrote it, after all.
1. Meet awesome locals
WWOOFing hosts are usually local farmers with a vision of living off the land in a sustainable manner. In this day and age, it can be refreshing to meet people who care about the environment. They will share knowledge, stories and weekend adventures with their WWOOFers.
2. Save money
Exchanging your work for food and accommodation is a great way to save money on the road. Hostels and takeaways can be quite costly and weigh heavily on your budget. We often hear stories of people saving more money when WWOOFing than working in cities where the cost of life is high and temptations like bars and expensive activities are around every corner. Try spending some of your time in New Zealand spending nothing to see what good it will do to your finances.
3. Eat great food
Even when trying to follow our simple hostel recipes, you will find that your diet on the road might not be as good as it used to be back home. When WWOOFing, you’ll be treated to organic homemade meals. See how great is it to eat the fruit of your hard labour!
4. Learn life skills
There are plenty of reasons to work on a farm in New Zealand. You will learn valuable life skills while on the job, like becoming more resourceful, confident and even master multitasking! What you will learn when WWOOFing will stick with you for life.
5. Live in (relative) luxury
Ok, we know that an organic farm does not really sound like luxury, but after spending a few months sleeping on bunk beds, eating $5 meals, and sharing facilities, you will find that having your own room and bathroom is a luxury. Eating a well-cooked meal and having “me” time will feel like a treat.
6. Take a deep breath of fresh air
If you decided to come to New Zealand, it is probably for the breathtaking landscape and the great outdoors. WWOOFing will give you the opportunity to embrace it to the fullest by ensuring that you spend the maximum amount of time outdoors breathing pure fresh air. Take it all in, you will be longing to be back here when working in your cubicle in 10 years time.
7. Improve your CV / Resume
Overseas experience becomes more and more valuable on a CV each year, as well as labour experience. It shows that you are not afraid to try new things and have life skills beyond what can be taught in a classroom. Employers and universities alike find this extremely attractive and highlighting it on your CV will set you apart from your competition. Check out more ways a gap year improves your CV.
8. Make friends for life
When living and working in a close community with your host and other WWOOFers you will form strong bonds in a very short time. It is not rare that years after meeting somebody on a farm you will still have things to joke and talk about. Some WWOOFers end up meeting up later in New Zealand and beyond! The backpacking world is small – very small.
9. Go off the beaten track
Farms are often located away from traditional touristy areas. Experience sights and activities deep in the New Zealand countryside that most backpackers simply “touring” New Zealand have never even heard of. This will make your trip more unique. You will proudly be able to say that you really saw it all!
10. Be introduced to employers
Unsurprisingly, WWOOFing is a great way to find a paid job. When volunteering on a farm you will get a chance to prove that you are capable and hardworking. Should you mention that you are looking for a job after WWOOFing, most hosts will be glad to introduce you to their neighbour or friend looking for staff and even recommend you! Score!