I was excited when I googled volunteering and found that International Working Holidays had options for those 40+ (and even older in my case!)
I decided on the South African Wildlife Sanctuary and was there for 2 weeks during August. It was a great time to go as it was cold and wet in Auckland and dry and warm in South Africa, though rather cold mornings and at night. In summer the temperatures are between 40-50 deg, so I don’t imagine that would be very pleasant.
I enjoyed the South African Wildlife Sanctuary. There were things that had to be done every day (shovelling elephant poo and prepping meals). It was my first time shovelling the elephant poo I dreaded having to do it for 2 weeks but then got into it and it was a great way to warm up first thing when it was only 6 deg! Such a different experience for a city gal who sits down all day.
Other activities varied – a game count, perimeter fence inspection, checking electricity current at lions enclosure, tracking the cheetah, distributing supplementary food in the field (no rain for 4 ½ years – hard to imagine for an Aucklander!).
We did a couple of activities in the community – participating in trash collection at the local town and painting at the local school.
The staff all want you to enjoy the experience of being at the sanctuary so there is time to spend with the elephants, go on a meerkat safari or any other safari you fancy. Everyone is very friendly.
The camp is very comfortable. There was only one other volunteer when I was there so we had a tent each.
There is wifi if you want to keep in touch with the outside world. Witney prepared tasty meals – rather on the large side. She looked after us well – washing and cleaning in addition to the cooking.
The weekends are yours to enjoy – visit nearby attractions or enjoy a meal or spa treatment at the lodge. The exchange rate is very favourable for New Zealanders so things are reasonably priced.
The organisation by International Working Holidays is fantastic. They help you decide what project is best for you, put you in touch with a travel agent, help with visa applications and call you just prior to departure to make sure you are all set.
I am slowly getting back into work at home, it was challenging this past week but needs must …!
To find out more about Claire McShane’s projects check out