Becoming a DOC ranger

Department of Conservation —  29/01/2020

The Trainee Ranger programme welcomes aspiring conservationists and hones their skills.

Ranger Georgia.
📷: DOC, J Ramage

Whenever we do an ‘Ask Me Anything’ on our social channels (and we’ve done a few! We’ll do more!) these are the questions we get the most:

• Where is Sirocco? – We can’t tell you.

• Why do you still use 1080 you [swear words redacted] – Because it’s currently the best tool we have to protect endangered native species from predators

• Can I book for X Hut or Y Walk? – Yup! Individual web pages say whether they can be booked on their webpage. Start here!

• I found a seal what do I do?! – Seal are often in funny places. Consult this page and call 0800 DOC HOT if you need to. Don’t move a seal!

But the question we get most of all is:

• How do I become a ranger?

We love getting that question. It’s inspiring that there are so many people interested in becoming rangers. We aim to be Predator Free by 2050, so the young people asking this question will have a big role to play.

DOC rangers do crucial mahi to look after our precious native species, the natural environment, and our public facilities.

There are a few paths to becoming a DOC ranger (and probably some yet to come that no one has ever done before), but a completing a New Zealand Certificate in Conservation, Operations, Level 4, is a good start. This qualification is offered by both the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) and Toi Ohomai in the Bay of Plenty.

The NMIT programme is designed, with the full support of DOC, to produce graduates with the skills and training to move into trainee or ranger positions with DOC or other conservation agencies.

NMIT call their programme Trainee Ranger Kaitiaki Whenua.

Graduates of this programme can apply for a limited number of Trainee Ranger vacancies with DOC each year.

Meet Georgia

Ranger Georgia.
📷: DOC, J Ramage

Georgia is a Trainee Ranger now based in Christchurch. She learned about the Trainee Ranger Programme through her school careers advisor and her application for the course was accepted in 2017.

Originally from Auckland, Georgia spent a year based in Nelson for the NMIT course, along with four months’ work experience with DOC Tongariro over the summer.

After her graduation in June 2018, she was offered a two-year fixed-term contract with DOC along with six other graduates.

Georgia says, “I absolutely love the Trainee Ranger programme. It’s given me so many new and awesome experiences, like working in the Abel Tasman and the Marlborough Sounds.

“I’ve meet so many awesome people like DOC Rangers and my fellow course mates, who are now like family.”

Rangers Georgia and Tom.
📷: DOC, J Ramage

If you ask her about her best day on the job, she’s silent for a while; which either means heaps of memories to choose from, or not many.

Eventually, she answered, “I have lots to choose from. It’s hard to pick –” (WHEW) “— but I would say my best day on the job would probably be doing track maintenance out at Nikau Palm Gully track in Akaroa.

“It was a hot, 28-degree day and the track has the most incredible views ever. I was working with an awesome team and doing some pretty cool work to get a track that had been closed since the earthquakes re-opened.”

Here’s a peep through Georgia’s eyes that day:

📷: DOC, Georgia
📷: DOC, Georgia

This Meet the Locals vid has some more detail about the Trainee Ranger programme. This was filmed a while ago, but the passion of those trainees matches that of those in the programme today.

It’s win-win. And win

The great thing about this programme, and in hiring young people in general, is that young generations (on whose shoulders the long-term future of conservation rests, but no pressure,) get a foot in the conservation door, and DOC get passionate new team members.

That means conservation is the big winner on the day, because the more people who want to be rangers or who care deeply about nature (even if they don’t do the programme,) the better.

Andy Thompson, the Operations Manager in the region Georgia works, says the fresh energy and talent the Trainee Rangers bring into a team is inspiring for everyone.

Ranger Georgia and Andy Thompson, Mahaanui Operations Manager.
📷: DOC, J Ramage

“We’re a big fan of the Trainee Ranger programme in Mahaanui as the trainees have helped to build our capacity significantly,” says Andy.

“Georgia is a ball of energy and enthusiasm who has no ‘off button’. Her enthusiasm combined with her growing field skills and confidence make her very valuable to our operation. 

“I was very proud when she led us onto a local marae at Koukourarata with her karanga recently.”

Ranger Georgia.
📷: DOC, J Ramage

Are you keen?

The Trainee Ranger programme is only one path to a conservation career. And it’s a good one! But remember it’s only one.

There are plenty of other ways to work for DOC; and plenty of ways to get involved with nature outside of us. You could volunteer! Join a community conservation group! An independent group! Or go the science route, or comms, or education, or policy.

We need young people to give a shhhhh about nature.

Because it’s the Georgias of the world who will be leading us forward.

Bookmark these if you’re interested in learning more

Our careers web page

Our Linkedin

The conservation (Whāomoomo) section of the Government careers website

Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology Certificate in Conservation & Toi Ohomai in the Bay of Plenty Certificate in Conservation

4 responses to Becoming a DOC ranger


    Is ist possible to bevor a ranger at the age of 58?


      Sorry, my keyboard has become independent ..
      I meant, is it possible to become a ranger at the age of 58?

        Alicia Warren 18/02/2020 at 2:36 pm

        Totally depends on what skills you have to offer DOC. Keen tramper? Consider hut wardening or camp site host as a way in.

        sabine michael 20/02/2020 at 10:37 am

        Thank you for your nice offer. I would like to come back to it. However, I will be able to travel to NZ at the earliest in early January 2021.
        Then if I can report again?
        Best regards