Last week we posted a big list of backpacker hostels and guesthouses where it may be possible to work for your keep. We had intended this to be one post only but WordPress decided otherwise and we had to split it into two. In part one we listed hostel work exchanges in Europe, Asia and Africa, while today’s list of work to stay possibilites can be discovered in North America, South America and Australia and New Zealand.
Hostel Work in North America
Cape Breton Island, Canada
A brief post on their blog mentions a web developer from Australia joining Bear on the Lake’s volunteer team. She started as a guest but was taken on once her skills became known.
We spotted this advert posted in 2013 by Polar Bear B & B: “I am looking for a person who wants to stay in Churchill for free in exchange for three hours a day of help taking care of my Mom and her house, preferably a female. Lots of beluga whales to see and possibly a few polar bears.”
Denman Island, Canada
Sheldon and Donna quit their jobs and the city to live the good life and sometimes need someone to clean, water the garden and chat with the guests staying at their Denman Island Guesthouse.
Volunteer work is available not just in Edmonton but all across Canada through Hostelling International.
Jazz Hostels prefers to accept participants who are students of the hospitality industry or long term travellers able to commit three months to their Work Exchange programme. In exchange for 32 hours a week of work in a variety of tasks – ranging from front desk duty, to housekeeping, to administrative work – you’ll receive free accommodation in one of our hostels (in Montreal, Miami and five in New York) for as long as you’re with them.
Nova Scotia, Canada
A small country hostel located between Mahone Bay & Lunenburg, Kip and Kaboodle will dish out a bed and a bike for a few hours each day answering the phone, housekeeping and chatting with their guests. You should also be willing to assist with cooking lobster. Minimum one week, but longer stays are welcome.
Roberts Creek, Canada
Up The Creek offers travellers the chance to stay longer by helping out with the various tasks required to run their business.Work is expected for three hours per day (five hours from a couple staying), for five days per week. Work duties include cleaning, gardening, building maintenance, lawn care, painting, planting, pruning, chopping/stacking firewood, fruit harvest, bike cleaning, and various related projects. Accommodation is provided in a 14 foot travel trailer, or in a dorm bed.
British Columbia’s Tofino Travellers Guesthouse has work/stay opportunities with preference given to people who have already stayed there. Cleaning, washing, bed making, painting and decorating are some of the things needing doing. Help make the Tofino Trek Inn clean and fresh for the new season and there will be a bed in it for you, while a peak season helper able to stay for two months working two or three hours a day is also required. A job seeker package is also available here for those looking for paid work about town.
Duties at Otto’s House include making beds, laundry, general house cleaning and checking people in. Judging from the reviews, it sounds like your free bed at Backpackers on Dundas will come with added bugs. The good news is if your job involves cleaning you can pretty much relax and do nothing just like previous people in that role seemed to do. The website wasn’t available when I checked so it is possible the place has already closed down.
Casual work with Ocean Island earns a bed and credit towards food and drinks, internet time, laundry, etc. The amount of work you do depends on the type of job you’re doing. Some jobs may be three and a half hours per day, others might be 40 hours a week: it depends how much time you have and how much money you want to save. An average worker spends most of their time in housekeeping, working about six hours a day, five days a week. A valid Social Insurance Number is required though.
San Jose, Costa Rica
Castle Tam is always looking for friendly, customer service oriented volunteers who can do construction, website design, online marketing, massage therapy, yoga instruction and IT, among other things. The job includes working reception, going to the bus stop to find backpackers, laundry and assembling and disassembling bunk beds. They also state on their website that if you think you are too good to scrub the occasional toilet then you need not apply.
Stolas is another hostel worth trying while we have seen Hostel Casa Del Parque advertise for the past couple of years in July for responsible volunteers with sales and customer service. The link to the jobs page wasn’t working when we tried but the link itself (at the bottom of the home page) should give an idea of the type of work they are offering.
Over at Galileo Hostel they want people who like other people and aren’t going to curl up into a ball every time something unexpected happens. Along with a free place to stay in Costa Rica they’ll pay too and bosh out a beer for each shift worked. The Aldea Hostel has also been noticed below the line of a Hub Pages article looking for volunteers to work in exchange for lodging and breakfast.
Volunteers at the Terrace Hostel are expected to work 35 hours a week, including one bar shift where you keep tips and a percentage of sales, for a bed and two meals a day. If you prefer to be out of town try Earth Lodge.
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
According to Jonathon Engels, writing in BootsnAll, Zoola is receptive to work exchanges. Yo Mama’s Casa was also mentioned but has since changed hands. Referenced in the same article is La Iguana Perdida, where according to HostelTrail: “The staff is made up mostly of English-speaking volunteers from overseas. Volunteer positions are available for blocks of at least two weeks, and involve working regular shifts in exchange for dorm accommodation (upgrades available), a daily food budget, and half-price drinks. If you are taking Spanish lessons or a diving course, you may be able to work your schedule around them, depending on the shifts available.”.
Based on the hearsay of a Reddit discussion, and depending on their needs at the time, El Retiro is said to take in volunteers
We haven’t seen Casa de la Iguana looking for work stay helpers but have seen them offering to pay people to work there. Either way, you’ll need to be able to handle a hangover and possibly some nudity too according to one TripAdvisor review: “Stay here if you want to see the permanently drunk manager running around naked.” In the jungle, 20 minutes away by boat, try Hotel Finca Tatin, where Chaya Sheppard worked with her ten month baby in tow.
Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Funded by their Hotel Backpackers and volunteer contributions, Casa Guatemala runs several projects for the benefit of local children, including an orphanage. Hostel volunteers though do not need to pay anything but should have a background in the hospitality industry and speak fluent Spanish. Food and accommodation is provided to those able to commit for at least a month. Jobs include kitchen, wait staff, promotion and internet marketing. Paid stipends are available for selected professionals from the hospitality industry willing to commit a minimum of one year.
Over the years Finca Ixobel have had many volunteers and some have gone back over and over again. Their volunteer program is available to anyone speaking Spanish and English who is able to spend at least six weeks with them. Room and board is given in exchange for work and on your days off can join in on one of the activities or tours that Finca Ixobel offers.
Port au Prince, Haiti
Along with help running the hotel, there are volunteer opportunities within walking distance of Pacot Breeze Hotel with nearby schools, churches and NGOs.
Help out for two hours a day and there’s a dorm bed on a Caribbean Island in it for you. Mostly the role involves helping the owner’s sons with their English homework with a little cleaning around the Roatan Backpackers’ Hostel on the side. Other locally based volunteer projects are also listed on their website.
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
If you can see yourself talking, helping or drinking with their guests, and still be up early enough for breakfast than volunteering with La Hamaca is for you. Cleaning and cooking is taken care of so volunteers are wanted for their customer service and communication abilities. Participation in their work exchange earns somewhere to sleep, breakfast and lunch, the opportunity to earn commissions and $300 per month. Do read up on the city though – it won’t be for everyone.
Polite, friendly and energetic people can help with entertainment and administration at Reggae Hostel.
Holbox Island, Mexico
We have seen Tribu Hostel looking for a receptionist and bartender. Spanish and English language skills are needed along with a big smile. How long you stay depends how much you like the island and them and how much they like you.
Removed from the tourist hustle, the Troncones Point Surf Club and Hostel, situated 20 miles to the north of Ixtapa, have in the past taken on an on-site manager in exchange for accommodation, food and a cut of the profits on rented rooms. In Zihuatanejo, three miles from Ixtapa, volunteers are needed to help the Hostel Rincon del Viajero run smoothly. They work as a community of artists, writers, scientists, construction workers, gardeners, etc, and all talents are welcome to help their goal to develop an ecologically sustainable, inspiring, and enriched living space.
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
It’s five six hour shifts to unlock free accommodation at Graffiti Playa Hostel, while Hostel Che will swap accommodation and breakfast for 20 to 25 hours’ work a week – providing you can commit to one or two months.
Puerto Escondido, Mexico
A small bungalow beach hostel on Mexico’s Pacific coast, we have seen Osa Mariposa… requesting temporary help in the kitchen for four to five hours of work per day in exchange for your bed and food, plus a share of tips. Some kitchen/cooking experience is required, along with basic Spanish and English, for what is described as a “typically mellow job.” They may be able to use a cleaner for three hours in the morning.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Billing itself as the only real backpackers’ hostel in Puerto Vallarta for young souls with a budget looking for a good time, Oasis Hostel has been known to employ volunteer workers, aged 23 to 32 and with pertinent work experience, for a minimum of eight weeks. Breakfast, dorm bed, internet, laundry, and drinks are provided in exchange for six hours work a day, with the possibility of pocket money after eight weeks.
San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico
Apply through Workaway to work on reception at Iguana Hostel. In return there is accommodation and pocket money provided.
Cool, social people are sought for volunteer work at Counter Culture Party Hostel, where the main roles are talking and drinking with guests, combined with some light house work.
Ometepe Island, Nicaragua
Hospedaje Central El Indio Viejo is staffed by local and international volunteers who are accommodated for all sorts of tasks including cooking, maintenance, housekeeping, gardening, DIY and decorating. Another project, in an Indian village on the other side of the island, also welcomes helping hands.
Bocas del Toro, Panama
Artists can add to their funky atmosphere, outgoing people are need to promote their activities centre and the green thumbed are welcome to love their plants. In return for 20 hours’ a week doing these things Casa Verde will allot a free bed and discounts.
Chiriqui Province, Panama
All volunteers first stay in the cloud forest at The Lost and Found as regular paying guests for a couple of nights before being given a work exchange role.in customer service, helping out in the organic garden or with art projects. Minimum four week commitment. Volunteers are also welcome to develop profit sharing ventures.
Occasionally Miami Mike’s needs volunteers to take care of various duties.
David City, Panama
In exchange for a free dorm bed and rice and beans, volunteers are required to work five to six hours a day at The Purple House, washing the sheets, sweeping and mopping the floors, meeting and greeting guests, answering phones, and any of the many other jobs that need doing in a busy hostel. Volunteers must be able to speak an intermediate level of Spanish.
Las Marias, Puerto Rico
Vegetarian food and a room with a shared kitchen, living room and bath is provided to work exchange staff working at Maravilla Caribbean Veg Bed & Breakfast; though if they have a lot of volunteers at one time tents will accommodate the overspill. Additional work over the four hours per day will be financially compensated and there may be the chance to earn from side jobs and tips. Among the requirements for applicants is that they should be animal loving, non-smoking drivers that can stay from six to 12 weeks up to six months.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
This 26 bed Palace Hostel is 15 minutes from the beach and provides free room and board for three to five shifts per week. They look for fun and outgoing people who know how to entertain guests but can still show up for work and take care of business. Island Time asks for five x five hour shifts a week, while San Juan International Hostel may also be approachable for a work exchange.
The Sitka International Hostel opened in 2010 in a historic building previously used as an infirmary, a college and a bachelor officers’ quarters for the US Coast Guard. We have seen them taking applications for ‘houseparent’ volunteers to welcome their guests and do some light housekeeping. On site accommodation and a stipend of $150 dollars per month for the local supermarket is provided in return.
Anchorage’s Spenard Hostel lists available jobs on their website including an unpaid work exchange position. This requires ten hours’ work per week for your bunk with the work itself including everything from cleaning to lawn and garden maintenance to painting to laying linoleum, depending on how handy you are.
The Fairbanks International Hostel may also have a work exchange programme for wannabe housekeeping staff.
Georgia’s Hostel in the Forest occasionally has need for some extra help at the hostel and are willing to trade a few nights for a dedicated hard working individual should they have a project in need of extra hands.
Gunnison’s Wanderlust Hostel appeals to the outdoorsy type and those trading their time and skills will be able to go skiing or hiking in the mountains in their free time.
Within two blocks of each other the Grand Canyon International Hostel and DuBeau Hostel invite travellers to stop a while in the mountains and live rent free for two to three hours of housekeeping duties per day, five days a week. Other perks include free breakfast and tours.
Work exchange opportunities are also available at all three of the Pineapple Park properties on Hawaii’s Big Island. The deal is four hours of work per day in exchange for bed space with shared bathroom facilities. All interested applicants must email references, CV/resume and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Los Angeles, USA
Paid jobs might be available to those that are eligible (ie those with a J-1 visa) but first get your foot in the door at the Venice Beach Hostel by working for meals and a place to sleep.
Superstar personalities with hotel experience are strongly encouraged to apply for front desk and management internships with Bikini Hostel. Accommodation exchange is available for the right candidates.
New York, USA
When I last stayed in Hostelling International New York (some time ago) I ran about the place wrapped up in a blue blanket, like a skinny drunk Batman. I suspect their volunteer programme might just be for locals but felt this was a good place to confess. If you are from New York and would like to deal with people like me by all means apply via the link above.
Brooklyn’s NYC Guesthouse and Hostel offers an opportunity for a student or foreigner looking to stay a couple of months for free in NYC. There is an application form for their work exchange on their Facebook page.
In exchange for 32 hours a week of work in a variety of tasks – ranging from front desk duty, to housekeeping – you’ll receive free accommodation in Pink Hostels as part of their work exchange programme. They expect a three month commitment and prefer to accept participants who are students of the hospitality industry or long term travellers. The Bushwick Hostel and the New Paltz Hostel both also have work exchange programmes.
CamelBackpackers are always looking for the next interesting person looking for a work exchange or for volunteer work at the hostel.
San Diego, USA
International Travelers House encourages travellers from all over the world to apply for their volunteer program. A standard day for live-in volunteer staff could range from checking in new travellers, keeping the house clean and tidy for the guests, or helping out with social activities. In return volunteers get free accommodation, meals, parties and trips.
Most volunteer positions available at RK Hostel are quickly filled by guests staying with them but sometimes the need arises for a few more fun loving, free spirited souls willing to help out part time in exchange for accommodation.
San Francisco, USA
There is three USA Hostels and each invites volunteer enquiries. The other two are in San Diego and Hollywood.
Kathleen Schmidt, who has also worked in a hostel in South Africa (see above) landed free accommodation in Seattle when she bumped into the owner of the Green Tortoise Hostel and was asked to help out with cleaning. City Hostel and its sister hostel Hotel Hotel both also take on help that are working for their stay.
Washington DC, USA
Resident Assistant positions at Loftstel are unpaid but come with free accommodation. The internships last six months and potential resident assistants are expected to have extensive travel experience outside of North America in addition to being fluent in one other language. RAs are expected to be on duty for 30 to 35 hours in a given week as well as being on call for an additional two shifts.
Hostel Volunteering in South America
Emma Higgins worked in two hostels in Argentina, in Cordoba (see below) and in the New Zealand owned Hostel 41 Below.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
24 hours’ work a week welcoming and assisting their guests is the requirement from Terranova Hostel. In return they will give volunteers with basic Spanish a bed and breakfast.
Download the application from provided by Millhouse Hostels (there are two in Buenos Aires and another in Cusco) if you are prepared to work 32 hours per week in a variety of tasks, such as front desk duty, housekeeping, bar tending, hostel promotion and administrative work.
Straddling the Argentine-Brazilian border Marco Polo Inn is always looking for fun people to become volunteers. All they require is good language skills (mainly English) , smiles and initiative.
La Mansion La Nomada has in the past advertised for someone to go and work for accommodation and extra payment. Previous hostel or tourism work experience preferred.
Spend a month working four shifts on the bar and there is some free accommodation, meals and discounts in it for you. There are four more Loki Hostels in South America besides in Salta. The others are in Lima, Cusco, Mancora and La Paz.
La Paz, Bolivia
There’s an email, but that’s it, on the jobs page of Wild Rover Hostels but I’ve seen mention that they do have foreigners working there and that they all seem to be Irish – or alt putting on the accent. There are also two Wild Rover Hostels in Cusco and Arequipa in Peru.
Alto Mar Hostel in Arraial d‘Ajuda has been welcoming backpackers for 30 years. They are always looking for easy going people who either want to spend some time in Brazil, or are already there and want to stay a bit longer. Travellers willing to stay a month and trade four to six hours of their day to work at the bar, in reception or showing backpackers the nightlife of Arraial d’Ajuda will get a bed, breakfast and laundry service. Some knowledge of Portuguese is a plus. In Salvador, collaborate in an art or social project between May 15 and December 15 and Open House will let you stay for free.
200 metres from some of Porto de Galinhas, one of best beaches in Brazil, La Rocca is reputed to have a work exchange programme.
Should you find yourself in need of a place to stay for free in Itacaré and spot a giant banana walk in and ask about a work for stay arrangement. Knowledge of both English and Portuguese is needed through.
Ponta Negra, Brazil
A new hostel in Natal run by three friends, Xique Xique Cama & Café invited travellers on opening to stay for free in return for help with painting, decorating, reception and other ad hoc duties.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Volunteers work three eight hour shifts each week on reception at Casa 579 and also contribute a minimum of six hours at a nearby community centre. To apply, fill in the travel ambassador application on the website. Minimum three month commitment required.
A medium to long term commitment is necessary to unlock the free accommodation available at Discovery Hostel in return for working three or four nights a week on reception.
The chance to live three blocks from Copacabana Beach is offered by the Cobanacopa Hostel. To apply you should eb aged 18 to 28, flexible and experienced in customer service. We also have anecdotal evidence of travellers working at Harmonia in Ipanema.
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Numerous hostels in the Che Lagarto franchise can be found across South America, in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Peru and Chile. If you are interested in cultural exchange and meeting people from around the world you are invited to stay for free. The work is in reception: helping customers, selling tours, handling bookings, and opening and closing the cash register. Applicants should be aged 18 to 28, flexible, mature and have experience in customer service. There is also a Work and Travel programme where participants move to a new hostel every three months for one year.
Brazilian law doesn’t allow LimeTime to pay foreigners without a working visa but they do exchange board and meals to those working in the bar or reception.
Birds live free in the trees surrounding Onça da Praia and so can you. Though not in the trees, in a bed with breakfast and lunch thrown in. Not literally thrown in. Oh, you know what I mean.
Outgoing, positive minded and proactive people who are dynamic and know about the world are needed to help around the Patagonia Hostel. The job entails doing pretty much everything from cleaning the rooms and laundry to running the front desk. They offer accommodation and free board. People who enjoy cooking and can speak English and Spanish – some German or French would be useful too – are most in demand.
Pucon, in the Lakes District, is known as Chile’s outdoor capital and, as such, volunteers helping with the day to day running of Hostal el Refugio are expected to be the outdoorsy type. Somewhere to sleep, tours, food and maybe commissions are the payback for your efforts.
San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
We have only spotted one reference to Backpackers San Pedro taking on volunteer staff but they are worth a try if you find yourself in the desert town with empty pockets. Cat lover preferred.
Lodging, breakfast, plus some money to cover food is offered to interns by Traveller’s Place Hostel. This six month commitment is billed as an ideal opportunity for students of hospitality, business, journalism, public relations or similar. See their ‘work with us’ for a little more information on the role. Elsewhere in the city, La Chimba will give up a private room to someone prepared to clean, go shopping and tend the front desk.
Found in a small town in southern Chile with eight universities, Aires Buenos has a permanent work trade programme to attract volunteer staff to help around both their hostel and permaculture project. Roles that need filling include guest relations, carpentry, massage therapist, tour developer and green architect. A shared dorm room, two meals a day and a monthly stipend month is provided in exchange for five work days a week. Proof of insurance and a ten week commitment is required.
Hostal deVisita is a small hostel requiring help with daily tasks such as cleaning, making beds and fixing breakfast. In return they provide a dorm bed and half board. The British owned Allegretto Bed and Breakfast also recruits volunteers via the Workaway network.
We spotted Lima Limón Candelaria Hostel asking for volunteers for February on their Facebook page. Perhaps they will want them at other times of the year too. Work three night shifts during the week and a dorm bed and breakfast is yours. We have also heard mention the Aussie owned Cranky Croc takes in volunteers too.
Volunteers can choose to help out at the Kasa Guane Hostel itself or support one of the two local projects that help children from less privileged backgrounds.
The Lake View Hostel welcomes chilled but responsible backpackers, including couples, to work and stay for free. Along with free dorm accommodation, benefits include free mountain bikes and kayaks and discounts on Spanish classes. Duties include a maximum of 3 hours cleaning, then just hanging out – perhaps fishing or reading – to be on hand in case someone shows up or guests have questions. The hostel also supports the rural community of La Meseta, located in the mountains above Guatape. Fees are reasonable (around £15 one time admin fee and £10 per day local homestay accommodation with three meals included a day) to volunteer and the work can involve teaching English, environmental work and helping handicapped children.
Work four days and stay for seven in Casablanca Hostel.
Santa Marta, Colombia
Jackie’s Hostel uses HelpX to attract their volunteers.
At La Casa Verde volunteers live in their own en suite private room when not working eight hours a day for five days a week (though mainly you will just need to be around the guest house – there is plenty of downtime to surf the internet, play the guitar, read a book etc – actual work will likely be no more than five hours a day). Breakfast and Spanish lessons are also provided. Duties revolve around guest management; meeting and greeting, explaining about the surrounds and what activities are on offer, organising taxis and activities.
Friendly people planning an extended stay in Ecuador are also welcomed by Erupcion. Here, there is room for your ideas along with your body – which will be accommodated in the staff room and given a couple of meals a day. Volunteers work six hours a day, five days a week.
Aimee and Michael spent a month volunteering with Hostel Backpackers Los Pinos and in their article say they “can help get you in touch with the managers and give you more details about what the work entails.”
Cotopaxi National Park, Ecuador
A bed and food are sometimes offered in exchange for helping out around Hosteria PapaGayo.
Hostal/Cafe Tiana, located in the colonial centre of Latacunga, capital of the Cotopaxi province, accepts help in reception and for general duties for a minimum of one month. Good people skills and basic Spanish required.
Shane Brown writes of his time volunteering with The Secret Garden Hostel, though it was a few years ago. Volunteers working in reception of Colonial House Quito are provided with a bed and food.
Elsewhere in town, the Community Hostel, founded by five college friends, keeps three or four volunteers on at a time to cook, clean and help around the place, while Hostal Llullu Llama almost always has volunteers to help take care of their guests. The minimum stay here is two months and you need to speak Spanish and English.
Free accommodation and a plate of grub is offered in Arequipa or Puno in exchange for working four to six hours a day in the bar, on reception or the tour desk of either Bothy Hostel.
If you are fluent in English and know some Spanish, you have the opportunity to belong to Intro Hostels Team. They can offer bed and breakfast in exchange for four days’ work in the bar per week. The management also have another hostel in Lima and plans to open two more in Iquitos and Tacna.
Hangout for free – behind the bar or reception – in exchange for investing little elbow grease into Pariwana, who are constantly looking for enthusiastic and outgoing individuals. They have another hostel in Lima.
Along with accepting volunteers to help out about the place, Jaime Crazy seeks to bring together volunteers to teach English to local children.
A bed and breakfast may be on the table to those able to support the marketing efforts of The Llama Brothers, a hotel in Lima’s Miraflores district. In the past we have also seen them looking for cleaners and receptionists on the same terms.
Travellers are invited to come and experience surf hostel La Casona by working for a maximum of five hours per day in exchange for accommodation and a meal. The work involves either working in the bar or restaurant or helping to repair and decorate the house. Creative and innovative ideas are always welcomed too.
Working in a Hostel in Australia, New Zealand & The Pacific
A browse through Gumtree revealed a few Cairns hostels looking for volunteer help. These include Nomads Cairns, Flying Monkey Backpackers (16 hours’ work a week in housekeeping for a minimum of one month), Koala Beach Resort (superstar cleaner wanted for two and a half hours a day) and Cairns City Motel (experienced housekeeper to work for at least one month).
Coffs Harbour, Australia
Fancy getting chained to the kitchen sink in return for free accommodation? That’s the offer from Aussitel Backpackers who say work for accommodation roles come up frequently and are given to suitable guests already staying with. Local farmers also let them know when there is work available during the blueberry picking season.
French Island is 38 miles from Melbourne and on it sits French Island Eco Inn where manager Philip invites help from chefs and great cooks from around the world. General help is also sought. In return for four hour’s work a day he supplies a room overlooking the sea, all your meals, plenty of fresh, country air and hopefully lots of great memories.
Port Macquarie, Australia
Current vacancies are listed on the Port Macquarie Backpackers website. When we looked they were looking for a duty manager, but they also say they are always looking for drivers and cleaners. Some positions receive pocket money as well as accommodation.
Akaroa, New Zealand
Bon Accord sometimes looks for a savvy English speaking volunteer to help on reception. A free bunk and one staff meal is offered in return.
Auckland, New Zealand
Two Auckland hostels participate in the YHA Volunteer Programme. In exchange for a couple of hours of voluntary service you can receive one free night in a dorm room in one of the YHA’s participating hostels. The work could be cleaning common areas in the hostel, weeding the garden or anything in between. Away from Auckland, another dozen or so YHA hostels across New Zealand take part in the same scheme.
For those with working holiday visas Surf ‘N’ Snow Backpackers have Working Holiday packages that include accommodation and assistance in obtaining an IRD number and opening a bank account. They also invite backpackers on a tight budget interested in a work exchange to contact them. The Skyway Lodge near Auckland Airport will also exchange a shared room for three hours’ work a day.
Christchurch, New Zealand
Ideal for those who wish to stop travelling for a while (minimum three months but ideally for longer) the Old Countryhouse looks for someone kind, friendly and outgoing to work in their reception. Work is for three and a half days per week. A food allowance is provided along with accommodation in the staff house.
Accommodation for a month is also provided at Vagabond Backpackers to travellers willing to clean or join the reception team. If you are still homeless you can always do a one to three month stretch in Jailhouse Accommodation.
Franz Josef, New Zealand
Breakfast, soup and bakery treats compliment the free accommodation boshed out to volunteers chipping in with the workload at Chateau Franz.
Greymouth, New Zealand
Do three hours a day at Noah’s Ark helping with the cleaning and laundry or anything else that needs doing and they will hand over a bike and free accommodation. They ask for a minimum stay of seven days but are happy if you can stay longer. Neptunes and Global Village Backpackers are two other places in town to try.
Hahei Beach, New Zealand
Clean in the morning and enjoy the beach in the afternoons. You must be able to stay at least three or four weeks at Tatahi Lodge.
Hanmer Springs, New Zealand
A quiet family park in the forest two kilometres from town, Alpine Holiday Apartments and Campground will provide accommodation and a bike for 14 hours labour each week. The work is mostly cleaning and gardening, with a bit of painting and, if experienced, possibly reception duties too. Couples or friends travelling together are preferred.
Hokitika, New Zealand
Enjoy the experience being part of a team at the small, family run Birdsong Backpackers. Daily cleaning and gardening work buys your accommodation. Two week minimum.
Napier, New Zealand
Along with a place to stay, horse treks and seasonal fresh fruit are among the perks offered to workers at Stables Lodge. In return volunteers are expected to keep the hostel super clean or staff reception for three hours a day.
National Park Village, New Zealand
National Park Backpackers is found in a small alpine village in Central North Island, near the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. They could do with a motivated traveller willing to help with the daily housekeeping for four hours a day in exchange for food and a dorm bed. There one day off a week and they want someone to stick around for a fortnight, but would prefer longer.
Nelson, New Zealand
Forest Parks gave details of working as a cleaner for his stay at Almond House Backpackers in his Everyday Nomad blog. Two hour’s cleaning is also the task over at Nelson Beach Hostel. A minimum stay of one month is required there. Elsewhere in town, we have seen the Paradiso Backpacker Hostel advertising for a night porter to work on a part paid and part for free accommodation basis for three or four nights a week. Applicants were expected to stay for at least a couple of months.
New Plymouth, New Zealand
Sunflower Lodge look for happy travellers to work for their accommodation to help keep their hostel clean for two and a half hours a day, six days a week. Hours are 2.5 per day, 6 days per week. Work in reception is sometimes available too.
Ohakune, New Zealand
Stay for a minimum of two weeks doing odd jobs and cleaning at LKNZ Backpackers and there’s free accommodation and bike hire in it for you.
Orewa, New Zealand
At the time of writing Pillows Lodge were willing to take on a skilled handyman to help with renovations on a work for keep basis. Whether they will want someone for more general task is unknown but there is no harm in asking.
Picton, New Zealand
Sequoia Lodge & Backpackers looks for friendly people to help for up to three hours per day, six days a week in return for accommodation, breakfast, choc pudding and ice cream every night, a weekly woofer dinner and other extras. Duties include mainly cleaning but also some driving if you have a valid licence.
Rotorua, New Zealand
Cleaning and bed making are the chores needing doing at Astray Motel and Backpackers in exchange for free accommodation. The work is for around three hours a day, with one day off per week, for a minimum of three weeks.
Takaka, New Zealand
A friendly mature non smoker is preferred by Annie’s Nirvana Lodge to clean and help in reception for four hours a day, with one day off a week. Minimum stay is one month.
Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Two hours’ work a day in Hekerua Lodge will invite free accommodation.
Westport, New Zealand
TripInn Hostel will divvy up free accommodation and use of the hostel bikes to one or two people able to keep the place clean for a couple of hours each morning. A one week minimum stay is required.
Whangaroa, New Zealand
Friendly, reliable people who would like to help with cleaning, gardening, general maintenance and reception work can exchange their labours for accommodation and kayaks at Sunseeker Lodge.
Useful Resources for Volunteering in a Hostel
Hostel Jobs, Hostel Management and HostelTravelJobs are all great places to find a job in a hostel, including paid work. For work exchanges only the membership based HelpX and Workaway networks and the free Staydu website mix hostel work in with a great many other ways around the world to work for board and accommodation.
More cheap ways to volunteer can be found in our Free (or Cheap) Volunteer Work Abroad site.