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WWOOF vs HelpX

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Find Work for Accommodation and Meals

No, this article is not about noisy dogs. It is actually about two ways you can volunteer 4-6 hours of work a day in exchange for accommodation, food and cultural exchange. WWOOF is an international non-profit organisation that has been a popular work for accommodation choice since the 1970s. HelpX started in 2001, connecting hosts and volunteers for different types of work for accommodation jobs.

Both are well-established in New Zealand, as itis a popular backpacking country with many farming and work for accommodation opportunities.

For more ways to working for accommodation in New Zealand, head on over to this work for accommodation article.

What are WWOOF and HelpX?

This article will outline what the two organisations do, how they work and round up with a simple conclusion.

  • What is WWOOFing?
  • Find out what is WWOOF NZ
  • Get information on HelpX
  • Which company is for you?

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What is WWOOFing or “Work for Accommodation”?

WWOOF stands for the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms organisation that connects volunteers with hosts so they are able to work for accommodation, food and cultural experience. In exchange, the hosts get someone to help with one-off projects and seasonal work on their farm. Today, “WWOOFing” is a general term used for the act of working for meals and accommodation on a farm.

HelpX is the same concept but includes homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpacker hostels and sailing boats.

For both schemes, volunteers work for 2-3hours a day, with some flexibility to get days off. For example, some hosts will allow volunteers to work extra hours on one day to get the next day off, and other hosts will give you days off anyway. The timeframe for staying with a host can also be flexible by lasting from one week to a couple of months.

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With an emphasis on sustainability, WWOOF has the aim of spreading the techniques of using organic principles around the world. This means that when searching for host listing on WWOOF NZ website, the host must mention how they farm sustainably.

Hosts are split into two categories due to the nature of the work required:

WWOOF hosts organically farm livestock and/or horticulture. Hosts must own a farm, smallholding, garden, allotment, vineyard or woodland. Expect to be helping out with jobs such as fruit picking, pruning, docking tails, milking, feeding, making compost, etc.

Cultural exchange hosts usually have social or conservation projects, such as building, crafts, animal care and sustainable tourism.

For a more detailed look at what it’s like to do WWOOFing, check out Everything You Need to Know About WWOOFing in New Zealand.

How to Sign up to WWOOF

The membership fee for both volunteer (up to two people per membership, great for couples!) and the host is NZ$40 for the first 14 months then NZ$20 to renew for another year. Because the host also pays to use this service, you can expect the hosts to be more genuine. Plus, people can report a bad WWOOFing experience, so dodgy hosts can be taken off the website. For tips on how to make your WWOOF profile stand out, head over to How to Create a WWOOF Profile That Hosts Can’t Refuse!

To sign up to WWOOFing and browse the host database, simply set up an account on the website.

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Free membership is given to volunteers. The free membership for volunteers is only a taster of the listings. The volunteer cannot get the contact details for a host without buying a membership of NZ$36 for two years. By paying for the membership, volunteers get the same information as they would on the WWOOF NZ website listings. Plus, there are extra categories of work, especially working in a hostel for accommodation. This is ideal for those looking for other work for accommodation options where they can choose to hone different skills, rather than exclusively farming.

Due to fewer host regulations on HelpX, make sure to read the reviews! Thankfully, HelpX encourages users to submit reviews so you can usually get a lot of information. The conditions are more flexible with HelpX hosts too, for example, you can do 2 hours a day with some hosts but then the volunteer may not get food in exchange. Ask plenty of questions by contacting the host, making sure both volunteer and host meet each other’s needs.

For more information about the advantages of using HelpX, see Everything You Need to Know About HelpX in New Zealand.

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To Sum Up…

HelpX and WWOOF have different principles. For those wishing to experience an alternative way of life, are interested in sustainability and self-sufficiency, want to learn farm skills, and need free accommodation and meals, WWOOF would be ideal. HelpX is a good option for volunteers to find work for accommodation in a variety of jobs, helping them develop skills as a hostel receptionist, for example, while saving some money.

When using both websites, pay for memberships, read reviews, contact the hosts and ask questions! For more tips on what questions to ask, see the 9 Questions You Must Ask Before WWOOFing.

Other Things Worth Mentioning About WWOOF and HelpX

  • Staying with a host family is a chance to see what it’s like to be in a New Zealand family. They will often involve you in trips they enjoy in their spare time like fishing, kayaking, tramping, surfing, etc. Some have even been known to invite volunteers around for Christmas.
  • Some HelpX and WOOFing hosts have several volunteers, meaning there are more like-minded people to spend time with.
  • Many hosts like to entice people with free WiFi and Sky TV!
  • Borrow a car to explore the wider area! Make the most of your WWOOFing location. Of course, ask the hosts first.


Robin C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before calling New Zealand home. He has now spent over a decade in the New Zealand tourism industry, clocking in more than 600 activities across the country. He is passionate about sharing those experiences and advice on NZ Pocket Guide and its YouTube channel. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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