Volunteering for DOC

Department of Conservation —  17/06/2014

We’re celebrating National Volunteer Week (15-21 June 2014). Join us as we share stories of the volunteers who contribute to conservation.

Sorrel Hoskin.

Sorrel Hoskin

Today, we’re publishing (with permission) an email sent by DOC Ranger, Sorrel Hoskin (New Plymouth/Ngamotu), to DOC Director-General, Lou Sanson…

As a partnerships visitor centre ranger on Mounga Taranaki I work in an amazing place—driving to work in the morning I look up at the mountain and feel lucky to work in such a special environment.

Mount Taranaki. Photo:  Kathrin & Stefan Marks | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Mounga Taranaki—an amazing place to work

We get busy at the visitor centre, and opportunities to get out and explore some of amazing places we help care for are limited.

Volunteers (left to right): Linda, Sorrel and Victoria.

Volunteers (left to right):
Linda, Sorrel and Victoria

When I read and hear about some of the cool things being done by colleagues around the country I wanted to learn more and help in some small way.

I also thought it’s important to know what we at DOC are asking of our volunteers. How can we promote and ask people to volunteer if we ourselves haven’t “walked the walk”?

So I took some annual leave and signed up as a volunteer for DOC on Maud Island doing weed work.

Ten days later, one volunteer experience doesn’t make me an expert—but it gave me an idea of what being a ‘volly’ is like.

The Maud Island trip was a big ask—10 days straight working 8 hours a day clambering up steep hills struggling through scrub looking for old man’s beard, wilding pines and pohutukawa to chop down.

Sometimes the going was steep.

Sometimes the going was steep!

Getting scratched, hot and tired, stumbling over fallen trees, ending upside down in gorse bushes… there were times I thought “what the #$@&% am I doing here?”

Old man's beard weeding.

Weeding old man’s beard

But I’d go back again and again. The hard work is balanced by the opportunity to be around some passionate, knowledgeable, DOC people—who obviously love their work—and interact with and learn more about takahē, kākāpō, giant weta, geckos, the Maud Island frog and penguins

I have amazing memories of going exploring one night and having to be careful where we walk so as not to accidentally step on giant weta or any tiny Maud Island frogs.

View from Comalco Lodge, Maud Island

View from Comalco Lodge, Maud Island

Night swimming in phosphorescence and watching a “glowing” little blue penguin swim by was a highlight… and then there’s the saddening impact of what the introduction of mice to the island means to all those species and the rangers who take care of them.

Taking a break.

Taking a break

I’ve returned to my job on the mountain with a greater understanding of the work being done to protect some of our endangered species, and a higher respect for colleagues who help protect these species. I also have a little experience of what it is like to be a volunteer for DOC. It’s bloody hard work—but it’s worth it.

Sunset from Maud Island.

Sunset from Maud Island

Volunteers play a vital role in conservation in New Zealand, whether they’re working with DOC or other community conservation groups.

Volunteer for conservation and help us on our mission to make New Zealand the greatest living space on Earth!

One response to Volunteering for DOC


    Kia ora Sorrel. Great blog and it was fantastic having you and Linda here as part of our team for a while.Look forward to hosting you again someday.Nice pics too!