Help for Volunteers

What to consider before you start your Cultural Exchange adventure

Here are a few hints and tips to think about before you start your Exchange. It may make your exchange more successful and rewarding!

Initial Contact and Communication

Ensure that your CE profile reflects who you are and what you are interested in. This will help with expectations you and your host have of each other.
Always book ahead. It is important to make arrangements in advance as your host may need to organize food, beds, work, tools.
Please make sure you read the host’s profile carefully and check availability on the calendar!
On your initial contact it is important to discuss details of the stay such as duration and what chores there are.
You and your host should discuss what expectations you both have from the exchange.
Say if you are vegetarian/vegan or have any other dietary requirements.
If you set a date to visit a host and then find you cannot make it, please contact the host to let them know as soon as possible. If you fail to turn up, there will be concerns for your welfare! You may also find you receive negative feedback on your profile if there is not a reasonable explanation for cancelling.

The Exchange

Please expect to do fair help for a fair keep – generally 4-6 hours per day. Help prepare meals and clean the dishes – this is not part of your 4-6 hours. It is usually intended that you live together with the host family and your host will appreciate it if you prepare a traditional meal from home to share. Remember, your CE home is not a hotel, nor are the hosts there to clean up after you 😉
On many properties water supplies can be limited. Please use water wisely, do not waste it, and never assume there is plenty of it. The same goes for power and food.

“Keeping an open mind and respect of a lifestyle, culture, religion and political views that may be different to yours will make for a more successful stay.”

What you need

Useful items to pack:

sleeping bag
toiletries/basic first aids
sturdy shoes
warm and waterproof clothing
old clothes for working
tidy clothes for socializing
flashlight and batteries
bug repellent
sunhat and sunscreen
drink bottle
mobile phone
Don’t forget the other items you can’t do without such as medicines, prescription lenses, special snacks or drinks you want to eat or drink. Bring a favorite recipe or game from home to share with your host families. 😉


Insurance is important. You don’t want to be left sick, hurt or “lost” your property in an unfamiliar place, trying to cover the expenses, or get home, without help. You are responsible for your own safety. Check you have insurance that covers medical care including transportation home, accidents, dental and loss of property. You should also be covered against you injuring other people or losing or breaking other peoples’ property. Only some insurance companies cover volunteering so ensure your insurer knows that you will be a volunteer on a hosts property.

Yes we have to mention it, Money

As a volunteer you are an independent traveler, responsible for all travel arrangements and expenses. Below are a few things you will need to budget for:

  • All travel expenses including, travel to your desired country and travel to/from and between host farms
  • Make sure you have enough money to support your stay (your hosts are not international banks or your parents)
  • Accommodation en route
  • Insurance
  • Toiletries/medicines
  • Mobile phone/internet access
  • Day trips/treats

Some hosts have limited internet access and it can be expensive. Do not assume you have a right to unlimited internet access. This may result in a large bill for your host, which is not much fun for the host and not the best way to end your stay. Please check first.

Hitchhikers Guide to hitchhiking in NZ


Hitching is a wonderful way to travel around a country for several reasons. Meeting local people who are usually generous and interested in you is a very good start. Their local knowledge and your opportunities for interesting experiences are enhanced. But there are ‘rules’ and etiquette that experienced hitchers know, that make it safer and more enjoyable. Of course, your safety is most important, and should at all times be your priority. Bad things can happen and sometimes do. While you are a ‘guest’ in the vehicle, remaining aware of what is happening and remaining alert to anything that might be a threat, is important. You need to be able to say ‘no thanks’ to a generous driver who has been drinking alcohol for example.

Personal Safety

Do not hitch at night.
It is safest to travel in pairs.
Let someone reliable know where you are intending to go and the time you expect to arrive.
Update them promptly if your plans change or you are delayed.
Plan your journey and know key locations you will pass through.
Carry a map you can refer to.
Ask the driver their destination before you get in the vehicle.
Assess the offer and be prepared to say no if you’re not comfortable with the situation.
If necessary, tell your driver you want to get out the moment they leave your chosen route.
Trust your instincts.

Mobile Phone

Use your mobile phone to send a photo of the vehicle and their number plate to your contact person.
Text the plate number if you can’t manage a photo.
Enter the POLICE emergency number 111 on your phone speed dial.
Keep your phone in an easy access pocket so you can press the dial button and have an open line to the POLICE if you have to.
Turn the volume down so that in an emergency POLICE can hear you while you argue with the driver and they can listen to the clues you give them.
You could make a ‘chatty’ call or text to your reliable person while you are in the vehicle passing on details.
Remember you may not always have cell phone coverage.

Road Rules

Follow road rules.
Pedestrian traffic is forbidden on motorways.
Walk on the right hand side of the road or on the footpath facing oncoming traffic.


Position yourself to a point where the traffic is slow and there is room for a driver to get the vehicle safely out of the traffic flow.
Position yourself so that your ride can easily see you from a suitable distance away.
A little distance from roundabouts is very good as all traffic must slow.
A little distance from major intersections is also usually suitable.
High speed traffic makes for difficult and dangerous hitching.
Take a bus to a suitable point at the edge of a city, the first small town is usually suitable.


Don’t walk with the traffic and hitch at the same time.
Don’t hitch if you have an important schedule to keep.
First arrivals get best spot, later arrivals move on down the road.
Tidy clothing helps, as well as carrying a bag or pack.
Engage with the traffic by:
Facing the oncoming vehicles
Make it clear you are wanting a ride
Hold your arm out with your thumb up and a closed hand
Look at the driver and smile
Carry some emergency food and water
Be prepared to chat with the driver
Short rides leaving you in the countryside are harder hitching because traffic speed is higher.
A collapsible umbrella is useful as it keeps you dry while hitching and is very easy to put away wet as you get into the vehicle.
Make sure you take all your ‘stuff’ with you as you exit the vehicle.


Keep yourself safe.

Have fun!