Student and Volunteer Programme

Biodiversity project Tui Nature Reserve offers a hands-on experience to young people with an interest in conservation work. This programme offers a look into all project activities involved, plus gives you an idea of what it is like to live in a very remote area.


The biodiversity project Tui Nature Reserve was started 17 years ago by Brian and Ellen Plaisier and is run now together with two, of their three children, Leona and Liam.

The 42ha reserve is protected by an Open Space covenant (QE II Trust).

We have strong links with the Department of Conservation, the Marlborough District Council and other community projects. Reviews by ecologists and botanists show huge progress in the reserve with an outstanding ecological value. This is supported by winning both the Habitat Enhancement and the overall Supreme Award at the Marlborough Environmental Awards 2009.

No skills are required, the programme focuses on the opportunity to experience aspects of predator and weed control, species monitoring, data collection, etc.

The programme can be affected by weather circumstances. For example, the use of monitor tunnels can only be done on a dry night.

Some of the tasks :

Also part of the programme :

The biodiversity project is located on a peninisula in the Outer Pelorus, Marlborough Sounds (S-I), with boat access only. It is opposite from the national bird reserve, Maud Island.

The restoration of native forest and its wildlife is very important for the next generation. A hands-on experience can be an important tool for young people.

The volunteers who spend time in the reserve are often aware of environmental threats like global warming, etc, and they want to take positive action against these pressures. We like to offer ways to do that with our project. We feel that we can make a change in the world, if we all work together.

With limited places available for this programme (1 to 4), we are targeting participants with a keen interest to guarentee the quality of the programme for the whole group. Places can be booked by individuals and/or by groups.

Whether you are studying ornithology, ecology, entomology, herpetology or wildlife, this programme is perfect to do baseline-research. We cover all the subjects in a week but you are welcome to stay longer to have more time to do your studies.

As we are in a remote area, we don't have landlines, only cell-phone coverage. The usage of water is limited, as we are 180 metres above sea-level. We depend on rain water combined with spring water pumped from the coastal area. We have solar power and gas water heaters.

We have built two Eco-cabins with cooking facilities, toilets and showers that are available for the volunteers. 

It is essential to carry sleeping bags, walking shoes and torches. 

Composting and recycling are part of life in the forest, therefore we ask volunteers to take out what they bring in. 

There will be also time to have enjoy the beaches and even go for a paddle, on a calm day, to explore the bay. Good swimming beaches too but can be quite cold outside the summer months, so for the brave ones only. There are a choice of books available and we will have the occasional dvd film.

With boat access-only, transport is organised by mailboat, that leaves every Friday, at 09.15am. The price of the mailboat is $45pp one way. The night before departure from Havelock, accommodation can be booked in the local backpackers.

The programme runs yearly, from the 1st of March, till the 30th of November. Outside that period, there could be occasional opportunities, depending on the situation.

As we work in the hills in a remote area, a general good health and reasonable fitness level is required. 

Optional additions to the programme can be guest-speakers and a visit to Duffers Reef (King Shag colony) etc. 

The programme can be tailored to the need of the volunteers. For example, we can tailor the duration of the stay, participation time, etc.

At the end of the programme, we provide a personal certificate that includes a record of the activities volunteers participate in.

As we are a private project we ask a fee of NZ$395 per week or NZ$295 per week twin share, to cover food and accommodation cost.

Please contact us for any enquiries : This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  .

We look forward to working together.