Working in Australia or New Zealand on a Tourist Visa usually involves keeping one step ahead of the increasingly active men and women from the immigration department. One way to avoid all that trouble and of keeping a big black stain off of your passport (if caught) is to work for your keep.
Fortunately there are a number of organisations and websites that assist with fixing up farm work on a work for food and accommodation basis.
WWOOFing in Australia and New Zealand
The most well-known is Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF). Established in Australia over 30 years ago WWOOF helps willing workers find favourable farmers. Covering a smorgasbord of alternative lifestyles, primarily organic farmers, WWOOF can help travellers find work on over 2400 host properties from backyards in Brisbane to vast cattle stations in the Northern Territory outback.
A 12 month membership costs A$65 (plus p&p) and includes a small volunteer insurance policy and a book listing all the places where you could soon be mustering cattle, cruising for crocs, bushwalking in the rainforest or building straw bungalows.
New Zealand also has its own branch of WWOOF requiring a separate membership for NZ$40. An extra NZ$10 (plus p&p) buys a printed book listing the farms belonging to the network. Find out more at www.wwoof.co.nz.
Other work exchange networks in Australia and New Zealand
Help X also lists farms, both organic and non-organic, as well as B&Bs, backpackers hostels, homestays, ranches, lodges, and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation.
Australia alone has over 1800 hosts, each of which can be viewed online though a €20 registration fee is required to view contact details and reviews.
Unlike WWOOF the registration fee allows access to hosts in both Australia and New Zealand, as well as the rest of the world, and is valid for two years. A free membership option is also available where hosts can contact helpers via their profile but not the other way around.
Workaway operates along the same lines but puts more emphasis on language learning and cultural immersion. Listings in Australia currently number nearly 300 and 175 in New Zealand with many more hosts around the world. Membership costs €22 for two years or €29 for a couple.
Farm Helpers in New Zealand (FHiNZ) sells a booklet listing about 350 farms throughout New Zealand. These farmers welcome visitors to stay for free, food and board provided, in exchange for 4-6 hours work each day.
Once you purchase a booklet, choose the farms you wish to stay on, contact the farm directly and inform them when you would like to visit, how long you wish to stay and any experience you may have. The booklet is available for NZ$25 via www.fhinz.co.nz and can be used by a family, couple or two people travelling together.
Image courtesy rileyroxx