Can I come to New Zealand to volunteer or volunteer once I am in New Zealand?

9 February 2023

Knowledge base articles

Can I come to New Zealand for the purpose of volunteering?

No. There are no immigration instructions that allow the visa holder to travel to New Zealand for the sole purpose of volunteering.

Those who intend to participate in a WWOOF exchange in New Zealand must hold an open Work Visa to do so, as this type of situation is considered to be paid work.

Can I do volunteer work if I am already in New Zealand?

If you hold a student, visitor, or work visa you can volunteer, providing you will not receive any gain or reward for the activity you volunteer for. Gain or reward is defined as anything that can be valued in terms of money, i.e. a payment or benefit.  

Any volunteer activity that work visa holders carry out must be over and above any paid work they undertake.  

If you do receive any gain or reward, unless you have open work conditions on your visa, you will be in breach of your visa.

For example:

  • If you were required to wear a uniform as part of your role, and you were provided with that uniform by the organisation, you would not have received any gain or reward and would not be in breach of your visa.
  • If you were given a clothing voucher in exchange for your voluntary activity, then you would have received a reward and you would be in breach of your visa.

If your intention is to receive a gain or reward, i.e. any payment or benefit such as board and lodging or goods (e.g. food, clothing and services), then you are not considered to be a volunteer.

Volunteers generally work for charities or not-for-profit organisations.

Can I do unpaid work while visiting New Zealand