Volunteer help required for different areas

We have lots of different tasks available – mostly regular but now and again, the occasional one-off.  If you haven’t already checked out our web page or our volunteer registration form, please do so
There is a wealth of information toward finding something for you to enjoy.   

If you are over age 16 and you’d like to talk about any of these tasks, please email:


1. Managing our ‘Hungry Worm Bins’

If you enjoy working with your family or friends, please put your hands up for this very interesting task.  
When - Currently every few days
Time - You choose your time and your day(s)
Where - Tari Road, Pukeatua


To check that:
•    the food scraps are healthy;
•    the other ingredients are added when required; 
•    the mixture is wholesome and nutritious; and
•    the bins are clean.

You will be responsible for:
•    keeping the worms alive; and 
•    for managing their fertiliser and vermicast
(emptying the trays into suitable bottles/containers).


Two teams of volunteers’.  
•    Ideally, this could be two family teams or two different couples … sharing a fortnightly roster.


The ‘Hungry Worm Bin’ is a living ecosystem that allows practical disposal of our food waste whilst also producing organic liquid fertiliser and vermicast for use around the grounds, in the gardens or in the nursery. These simple effective changes will ensure that we walk the talk andare consciously reducing our ‘carbon print’!


2. Aviary Duty

If you’d like to help make up fresh sugar water for our hihi feeders and be part of the team who share a monthly roster, then this is for you.  Other duties include keeping the aviary area clean and tidy, scrubbing down the feeders in the southern enclosure and sometimes nursing transient bird patients.

3. Visitor Hosts

This team works closely with the visitor services team at the Manu Tīoriori Visitor Visitor Centre to support them in delivering the best possible experiences for our varied range of visitors to the maunga, and that they leave having been entertained and well informed. If you enjoy interacting with the general public and are proud to boast our many project successes, then this is something that you will enjoy.

When - At least one day a month (more often if desired - you choose your day(s) by roster selection).
Time - During opening hours on Saturdays, Sundays and occasional other days.
Where - Tari Road, Pukeatua


The primary role of volunteer hosts is to assist the visitor services team to
•    meet and greet visitors, find out where they are from and how they heard about us
•    provide appropriate information about the project and what there is to do and see at Sanctuary Mountain® Maungatautari.
•    making tea/coffee purchased by visitors.

You may also be called upon to assist with keeping the tidy and functional during the day and this could include:
•    Checking toilets for cleanliness and supplies
•    Watering the plants for sale
•    Restocking merchandise from the storeroom
•    Collecting one day passes from collection box at the gate
•    Assisting with tidying/cleaning tasks throughout the day 


This role is suitable for individuals, as they will be fully supported by the Visitor Services team.


The Sanctuary Mountain® Visitor Centre, is the initial point of contact that most visitors to our project pass through. By volunteering your time here, you support MEIT to encourage and facilitate visitation by local, regional and international residents. By sharing our stories and our place within the wider conservation context with visitors (that hopefully will be enjoyed and remembered long after visitors have departed) we help to ensure their continued engagement in, and support for our project. Come along and support us in sharing the mauri and the mana of Sanctuary Mountain® Maungatautari.

4. Track Cutters

If you are confident, bush savvy and willing to work in pairs, you will work all over the mountain trimming back overgrowth along marked monitoring tracks or cutting old unused or new tracks.  This might be up and down steep gullies and along high ridges so you will need to be very fit. You will undertake a physical work-out and a great sense of achievement knowing that you have contributed enormously to the all-important pest monitoring programme on Maungatautari.  Come along and be part of a world-class ecological project.

A love of the outdoors, native flora and fauna. A fit healthy, bush savvy person with a great love of the mountain environment.  Someone who enjoys a day of physical work out in the bush.  This work is very challenging but also extremely rewarding.

Time commitment:

Minimum 8 hours per day working with field-staff or other keen volunteers

Leadin Text

A Mountain Environment

Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari has three enclosures: The southern enclosure (Te Tūī a Tāne ), the northern enclosure and the Tautari wetland.  ‘Enclosures’ is something of a misnomer: it suggests that we are trying to keep something in when in fact the opposite is true, we are keeping pests out!

The Enclosures

The southern enclosure, Te Tūī a Tāne, is the largest of the three enclosures, at 65 hectares. The name Te Tūī a Tāne means ‘the weaving together of all things Tāne’ where Tāne is the god of the forest.  This name reflects our intention to re-create a functioning forest ecosystem.  Our and facilities are based at this enclosure. There is also an events centre in the forest and a 16m viewing tower.

The northern enclosure was the first area fenced when the project began.  To celebrate its completion 3,000 school children and supporters held hands around the enclosure, this action also symbolising the bringing together of the community. There are minimal facilities at the northern enclosure but the bush walks make a lovely day trip.

The Tautari wetland enclosure is found at the southern side of Maungatautari.  This offers visitors the opportunity to see a live functioning wetland eco-system.  Before the arrival of humans, the bush line extended much further down the mountain, gradually merging into other ecosystems. The bush line’s current altitude commenced with the arrival of Europeans, who used the newly exposed land for intensive agriculture. Eighty percent off wetlands in the Waikato region were destroyed for agricultural use due to the drained soil being very fertile.  The Tauroa family generously gifted the wetland to the Trust in 2005. Shortly after, the three hectares were surrounded by an X-cluder pest-proof fence.  The species now thriving in the Tautari wetland include takahe, kiwi, banded kokopu, giant kokopu (native NZ fish) and tuna (longfin eel).

A separate section of the Tautari wetland has been transformed into a purpose-built home for tuatara. To create suitable habitat, this area has been covered in wood chip mulch to provide a litter layer for insects (tuatara food) and planted to provide shade for the creatures when required. A boardwalk and viewing platform have also been constructed, and waterways created.  Tuatara were extinct on mainland New Zealand by the time Europeans arrived here. These fascinating creatures are a direct link back to the time of the dinosaurs.

Our Wildlife

With the fence now in place and all mammalian predators eradicated from the maunga, the native bird life is flourishing. Birds like kaka, hihi, tieke, Western North Island brown kiwi, takahe, kakariki and the kokako are just some of the birds you are able to see and hear when visiting the sanctuary.  There are also mahoenui giant weta, geckos, tuatara, koura and North Island long tailed bats present at Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari. Very few places in New Zealand have such a diverse number of native species living safely in their natural habitat.

If you’re interested in wildlife conservation or bird watching you will find plenty to look at on Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari. Our mountain is home to several endangered and vulnerable species.

To date, several native bird species have been reintroduced to Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari, including these threatened species:

hihi/stitchbird (nationally endangered)

kaka (nationally vulnerable)

takahe (nationally critical)

North Island brown kiwi (nationally vulnerable)

kokako (at risk - recovering)

All of those threatened species are now breeding on the mountain. Sanctuary Mountain is the only ancient rainforest mainland site where you can encounter endangered species such as hihi, kaka, kokako and kiwi.

Wildlife Finder.

Our Flora

With all grazing mammals eradicated the forest of Maungatautari is now flourishing. A thick and lush understory can be seen like very few other native forests in New Zealand.  Where visitors can step through the gates into an ancient eco-system and view an array of native trees, ferns, shrubs, vines, mosses and fungi.

Significant areas of old-growth forest remain on Sanctuary Mountain – much more so than any other sanctuary in mainland New Zealand. Today, our mountain represents nearly half the forest remaining in our ecological district.

Forest on the lower mountain

In the lower reaches of the mountain, scattered rimu and rata emerge over a canopy of tawa, mangeao, kamahi, hinau, miro, rewarewa and pukatea. Magnificent stands of mamaku are a feature while dense tangles of kiekie, supplejack and toropapa, silver fern and hen and chicken fern form much of the understory. A range of native orchids may also be observed.

There’s a special structure to an undamaged forest - undergrowth, understory, sub-canopy, canopy, and emergent trees. In most New Zealand forests the understory and sub-canopy are absent. This is because every time a seedling became established in the last 200 years or so, a goat or deer would come along and eat it, preventing any from growing. Visitors to the southern enclosure will notice the large canopy trees, and the small undergrowth species which have grown up since invasive browsing species have been eradicated.

Higher altitude forest

Further up the mountain you will notice distinct changes in plant composition and abundance. This is due to decreasing temperature, increasing rainfall and associated soil and climate changes as you climb higher. The increased altitude sees tawari, kamahi, tawheowheo, broadleaf and Halls totara become more abundant. In this upland forest the understory consists of soft tree ferns, coprosma, toro, five-finger, raukawa and horopito as well as toropapa. Tawari is particularly noticeable in December and January with its mass of large white blooms (whakou). Epiphytes are more abundant in this cloudy humid environment, especially filmy ferns and kidney fern. Ground cover consists of crown fern, bush rice grass and hook-seeded sedges.

On rocky spurs you’ll find low-growing tawheowheo, mingimingi and small shrubs, sedges, orchids, herbs and mosses.

Beside the walking tracks tiny seedlings have sprouted. Since the removal of all mammalian pests, the flora on Sanctuary Mountain are recovering at an incredible rate. Seeds are able to germinate instead of being eaten by rodents, and the increasing bird population is helping with wide seed dispersal again. The forest is regenerating naturally.