The wonderful world of WWOOFing
A great option for saving cash, whilst gaining a TRUE Kiwi Experience is to try WWOOFing.
WWOOF stands for: Willing Workers On Organic Farms.
It’s a network of hosts willing to provide food and accomodation to volunteers in exchange for help in farming, landscape, gardening or hospitality work.
To join as a worker, you need to purchase a WWOOF booklet for about $40. This acts as your passport to work for the various hosts. It helps to go on the web to wwoof.co.nz and set up a profile so you can contact hosts online; and they can see what you’re all about and read any recommendations given to you by previous hosts.
You can search via region and read descriptions of hosts and the work required.
It’s a wonderful way to see how people live and be welcomed as part of the family. You get to contribute something back in exchange for their hospitality. Which, as opposed to just wandering around as a consumer-tourist, is a nice way to travel and interact with locals. And, you get to learn new skills and gain different perspectives.
It’s not all farming either. Many hosts run hospitality businesses such as cafes, hotels, B&B’s or hostels, and you can work in the kitchen, as a housekeeper or as a receptionist and use the experience towards paid work in the future.
As WWOOFers so far, we’ve had many different roles:
First, we worked for a couple on Waiheke Island helping out around the house and yard and in their rental cottage. They even invited us to stay on longer and help out with their wedding! They were very generous, giving us our own room and even loaning us their car to get around and see the island. They introduced us to all their friends, whom all made us feel like locals ourselves.
Next, we worked for a family up in Kerikeri, who run their own organic vineyard. We were invited to harvest the grapes, bottle wine and help around the winery. All the while, our host proudly taught us aspects of his trade. We got to sleep in our very own housebus and delicious home cooked meals were provided to us every evening, complete with a bottle of wine from their collection to sample. We really appreciated them taking the time to teach us about winemaking and encouraging us to take time out to see the sights of their region.
We also worked for a small family-run 4+ star hotel in Franz Josef. We were given a nice hotel room and free reign of the facilities. There were other WWOOFers with us there to interact with as well. We all shared in housekeeping, reception / reservations and helping out in the kitchen and restaurant. Paul even got a free helicopter ride atop the glacier! We signed on for 2 weeks and ended up staying 4 or 5! We really felt welcomed as part of the family and invited to come back and stay as a guest whenever we wanted, as many past WWOOFers had whilst we were there. It’s great to know you have a place to go to should you get stuck or miss having a family unit.
So, as you can see, there’s all sorts of different opportunities in WWOOFing. It’s not all about farming and sheering sheep. I highly recommend this experience, even if you don’t need to save the money. You’ll most certainly make lifelong memories and be the recipient of generous hospitality you won’t find just roaming from hostel to hostel.