FOMI Work Trips (aka Working Parties or Working Bees)

December 2022 Update: In the past, FOMI has been able to offer volunteers many opportunities to participate in the restoration of Mana Island. Unfortunately, lack of access to the island has means that larger groups of 16 can no longer travel out. See the December newsletter for the reasons behind this.

In recognition of the benefits to Mana Island through FOMI volunteer efforts, DOC has offered FOMI travel on their boat for up to five volunteers at a time. These working parties are different to the larger social events the trips of the past became. Gone also is leaving for Mana 4pm Friday and getting picked up from the island 4pm Sunday. DOC boats don’t run on the weekend, so pick-up day is tentatively planned for the Monday. Because the boat is smaller and not as able to sail in bad weather as the Charmaine Karol was, the pick-up day could be postponed should unforeseen weather arrive. This is difficult for many of our volunteers who need to be back for work on Monday.

Over the years, members who volunteered regularly developed areas of skill. With such a limited number able to travel on the boat now, it has become necessary to draw on the those with known skills that fit the differing seasonal tasks in our work programme, such as monitoring and burrow maintenance. Unfortunately this has limited the availability general opportunities for new volunteers which we offered in the past.

We hope that a new transport provider will soon be found and FOMI can again offer volunteer opportunities to a larger number of people. Until then, you can read about what working bees were like when transport was readily available below.

We run several work trips each year to Mana Island when volunteers undertake a variety of tasks to help the restoration programme. 

We welcome volunteers to help us in our work. The trips are fun, working with like-minded people in a beautiful environment. You will have an opportunity to explore the island while you are there. 

Members of FOMI and other volunteers have planted more than 500,000 trees on Mana Island since restoration work began in the 1980s. The main planting programme is now complete and the trees are maturing well.

We are really proud of the work our volunteers do. Listen to this interview with two of them on RNZ National as part of a series on volunteers in January 2019.

What do volunteers do on the work trips?

The work programme varies from year to year. It usually includes routine seasonal work such as gecko monitoring, five-minute bird counts, seed collection, nursery work, weed control, clearing culverts, light welling slower growing canopy trees and special projects. In addition, the DOC ranger always has tasks which assist the management of the island and enhance visitors’ experiences. 

Watch this video to get a taste of a weekend work trip.

Read a report about the June 2020 work trip – the first one after COVID-19 lockdown – to get an idea about what is involved. There are also reports about work trips in many of our newsletters

Who can volunteer?

Anyone can! We love meeting new people who are enthusiastic about conservation work. 

For the work trips, preference is given to Friends of Mana Island members (there is a minimal cost to join). 

FOMI members receive an email inviting them to register interest, so those on the membership list get early notice of upcoming dates. We encourage you to become a member so you receive this email.

Volunteers do need to be reasonably fit as the tasks include physical work. All tools are supplied including gloves and overalls if needed.

Where do volunteers stay?

There is comfortable accommodation in a Lockwood house which sleeps 20 persons in two bunk rooms. The house has electricity, a living/dining area, fully equipped kitchen, and a bathroom with showers and hot water. And tuis which feed on the flax near the deck!

Evening meals are generally shared which makes it easier and gives variety. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed as we wind down after a day in the fresh air. In the evenings you can hear the kiwi call. 

Volunteers need to bring suitable clothing, strong footwear, all their own food and sleeping bags. There are mattresses and pillows in the bunkrooms.

How do volunteers get to Mana Island?

Free transport to the island is on a boat arranged by FOMI, with departure from Mana Marina. The trip takes about 20 minutes. We disembark via a gangplank directly on to the stony beach, so your feet stay dry!

The boat leaves at 4pm on Friday afternoon and returns to the mainland on Sunday afternoon. Our work is undertaken on Saturday and Sunday.

The boat skipper needs to verify the trip which is sometimes cancelled on the day if the sea conditions will make it difficult to disembark on the island, so check your emails before you go.

Full details for each work trip are emailed to all volunteers before departure including biosecurity information.


You will be emailed biosecurity information before the trip. Please read this carefully and follow the instructions.

DOC has a useful video showing what to do.

Health and Safety plan for working bees

We take the health and safety of our volunteers seriously. FOMI has a Volunteer Safety Plan for working bees on the island. All tasks are assessed for health and safety before work begins each day.


FOMI Volunteers at Work