Part I – Operation Tidy Fox: Volunteer Q+A

Department of Conservation —  02/07/2019

In March the Fox River landfill partially washed away during an extraordinary flood event. Meet some of the amazing volunteers lending a hand at Fox River to help with the clean-up…

Denise Lahood

Tell me about yourself and why you are here volunteering?

I’m from the Hawke’s Bay and currently house-sitting up in Whataroa. I am pretty close and I’m not working at the moment so happy to get involved.

Where did you find out about this volunteering opportunity?

The South Westland Coastal Cleanup Facebook page.

How much time will you be spending here at Fox?

Three days a week. I want to pace myself, I did three days last week and was pretty knackered.

What are/were your expectations for this volunteer position

No expectations. Just bloody happy to help. It’s quite soul destroying, witnessing how deep the rubbish is buried.

What keeps you motivated on the tough days?

Listening to music, when the sun comes out, the warm weather. The beautiful nature.

Katie Radley

Why you are here volunteering?

I’m living in Wanaka at the moment. I have been following this on Facebook and hearing about the tragic event that happened back in March and wanted to get out here, get involved. I finally had some time off and got some mates together. Four of us came over from Wanaka.

What were your expectations?

I was expecting it to be dirty rubbish, like nappies and stuff but the rubbish is mostly hard plastics, none of the really dirty things.

Why do you like volunteering?

Just because everyone else does it. We are all kiwis, this is our home. We need to help restore it to its beauty and serenity.

What do you do during your free time?

We went up to Franz Josef and up to the hot pools up there. It was nice to have a soak and relax after a long day. The food at the pub was really good.

Desmond Watson

Why are you here volunteering?

I’m basically here to clean up as much of this rubbish as possible, it’s an epidemic how far and wide it has spread out. More hands are needed.

How did you find out about this?

I have been picking up rubbish for the last six months, volunteering, travelling around New Zealand and I was in Queenstown when I heard about the landfill wash out.

How much time will you be spending here in Fox?

I’m here for about three weeks, then I will continue my own little mission – Kiwis Clean Aotearoa.

Why do you like volunteering?

I just basically think we can all do something more and jump out of our comfort zones and get out there. Whether its planting, picking up rubbish or helping the elderly or the homeless it’s a good thing to do.

Genevieve Robinson

Why you are here volunteering?

I have been watching it since the whole development of the flooding and the aftermath and I have wanted to come for so long. But I guess, for some people it’s the logistics of getting here but once you’re here its actually amazing I mean look at the scenery. And the people are hilarious. But I’m here mostly because I am an advocate for the Hector’s and Māui dolphin. I don’t know if everyone knows but 5000 Hectors  dolphins live along this coastline.  I was really worried about them and a lot of the group I’m involved with were like you need to go! You need to go! So here I am. And it’s great, I want to stay longer.

What were your expectations for this volunteer position?

I was really expecting anything. I was really open minded. They thing I really struggled with was how I was going to feel about being here and seeing this rubbish but once you get stuck in, it’s actually quite enjoyable. It’s not ideal but I want to just push myself and make things happen too.

What do you most enjoy working with other volunteers?

They are open hilarious people from different walks of life I love the nationality, the broad nationality. There is a lady from Italy, France, and then just locals.

What keeps you motivated on the tough days?

The good breaks. We have really good muffins. Also the scenery as I take a lot of photos for myself and share them on Facebook and Instagram. Just those comments from people sharing the load and the emotion.

We need your help!

Operation Tidy Fox is a massive push to clean up the Fox River. We’re looking for loads of volunteers to help. We are supplying accommodation, lunch and dinner. Volunteers will also be transported to and from the work area.

It’s a great opportunity for you to contribute to an environmental project, have fun with other volunteers, and explore the beautiful West Coast!

Register as a volunteer at or contact if you have any questions.

Check out Part II of our Volunteer Q+A

9 responses to Part I – Operation Tidy Fox: Volunteer Q+A


    Ngaa mihi koutou maa


    We live in ChCh, 2 of us , we have a poptop we use lol, we would like to help. However we have a dog who would be with us,Comments please

    Hazel Aughton 02/07/2019 at 5:24 pm

    I can’t volunteer but would be happy to donate money if there’s an account to help those who are giving freely of their time


    Great to see the effort volunteers are prepared to put in. We have no planet B so we have to keep our postage stamp sized lot as pristine as possible.


    You are all absolute champions. I am personally so grateful – this is one of my favourite parts of New Zealand and it’s tragic to think of it literally trashed. There should be a LOT of good karma coming your way, people!

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