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Wwoof in New Zealand

Wwoof is an organisation that places volunteer workers with organic farmers to work in return for recieving their food and lodging.

What is wwoofing? Wwoof is an acronym standing for Willing Workers On Organic Farms.

Dotted around New Zealand's beautiful scenery are some 500 farmsteads which have decided against the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers in favour of completely natural methods.

Wwoof is a worldwide organisation that is particularly strong in New Zealand. The basic idea is that volunteers agree to work on an organic farm for about 4 hours per day in return for their food and accomodation. Usually meals are taken together with the host family and the volunteer is encouraged to join any activities the family may be involved with.

Applicants must be over 16 years of age and must not be from countries whose nationals need special invitations to enter New Zealand.

Before anyone can begin wwoofing they must pay the membership fee of about NZ$30. This can be done out of New Zealand by posting a check or money order or else can paid in New Zealand at most tourist information centres.

The new member will recieve a guidebook with listings of all the organic farms in New Zealand which contains information such as how many volunteers are needed on each farm, what sort of work is involved, what time of year work is available and how long volunteers can stay.

There is a large variety of different style farms to choose from. Some are purely vegetable or fruit crops with no animals and some are a mixture of both. There are organic honey producers and some are not even farms at all but guesthouses run along organic lines.

A general level of fitness is required as work such as digging, weeding and other tasks can be quite energy consuming.

In the North island the majority of farms are situated in the beautiful Coromandel peninsula situated about two and a half hours southeast of Auckland. This is a beautiful region comprised of limestone hills covered with dense native forest and beautiful beaches. It is possible to hop around the peninsula staying a week or so at each organic farm. The climate here is hot and sunny in summer and mild in winter.

In the South island the highest concentration of organic farms is in the Nelson Bays region at the top of the island. Tasman Bay and Golden Bay are host to a wide variety of different organic operations ranging from small farmsteads growing a few crops to quite large farms needing quite a few volunteers.

If you are on a budget wwoofing is a really great way to see the country cheaply and meet great people in the process. Many organic farms are situated in idyllic locations with plenty of opportunities after work for swimming, hiking, horse riding and a host of other outdoor activities.

Many farms are quite isolated so be sure to have everything you think you will need before arriving. An important item to bring along is a good sunscreen as the New Zealand sun is very strong in the summer.

This is due to the large hole in the ozone layer which spreads over New Zealand every year. Burn times can be as short as six or seven minutes. As most work on organic farms is outside you will be heavily exposed. Insect repellant is also an excellent idea as midges and sandflies thrive in the summer.

A lot of farms have no television so bring along some books. Make sure you also take along some sturdy work shoes or boots, a hat with a wide brim, and some old clothes that it is okay to get messed up.

Wwoofing in New Zealand is all about sharing your energy and culture with others to promote increased understanding of different peoples and a healthier planet for everyone.

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