Thanks Workaways for having a look at our profile.
First, before we begin, please note that we are only open to Workaways this year for November-March.
The Centre is a place of great beauty in the heart of NZ's countryside. For detailed info on the Centre as well as adventure activities nearby in this part of NZ, have a look at our new website
We're going to have to ask that Workaway volunteers this year are 20 years or older and fit and strong. The reason for this is that our work programme this year is:
(a) complete some building renovation - so would love to find some helpers with some experience in carpentry and/or plumbing (they don't need to be qualified),
(b) finish digging out a pond in the spring-fed stream that borders our property and rebuilding a dam.
For these kind of projects, we need helpers who are fit and able and willing to do some nice, hard work along side the hosts!
While we have traditionally been a non-profit life-skills training centre for disadvantaged young people, we are now focussing on making (free) movies about issues of importance to young people (10 videos and a full feature movie). We're at the end of the famous Timber Trail Cycleway and on the 2500km NZ Walking Trail (Te Araroa). The Centre is set along a trout-filled river, with over 2 hectares of orchards & fields, and a hot tub for 8. Next door - a 30 metre swimming hole with beach, Alpaca Farm, Forgotten World Railway & Wanganui River Kayaking. Within an hour - Waitomo Caves, Lake Taupo, and the Alpine Crossing/skiing at Tongariro National Park.
We've hosted 150 volunteers over the past 5 years on various volunteer sites - so have a lot of experience and very much enjoy having young people at our Centre (and older ones too!).
FACILITIES The Centre is not a 5-star facility but it is a cosy and very friendly place where you have the opportunity to learn a lot about self-sufficiency and about life in general. While with us Volunteers stay in their own 115-year old Miller's Cottage, with large hot tub outside (heated when we have lots of guests), free internet and a 1000 book library covering many topics from organics and animal care to nutrition to happiness and meditation - plus a communal kitchen/sitting room. The food is vegetarian + fish. We normally prepare lunch for everyone and eat together and then ask volunteers to prepare their own breakfast and evening meals, from the food we stock in their cottage.
RECREATION There are many fun things to do when the work is over ... from kayaking to fishing to swimming in the 30 metre swimming hole near the Centre to cycling, reading in one of the hammocks or just having a soak in the communal hot tub, which fits about 8 people (it's not on all the time so you will need to ask). Marty and Sylvie teach free meditation classes for interested volunteers and there are yoga and other similar classes in nearby Taumarunui.
COMMITMENT We need volunteers to commit to staying at least one week, and longer if they can. After this first period, the stay can be extended provided there is mutual agreement (we've had volunteers stay up to seven months). Please come with a happy spirit, a desire to learn and a "roll your sleeves up" attitude, willing to help in any area needed. While here, we encourage volunteers to take time to read some of the books in the library, learn some new skills and spend time thinking about where they are headed on their journey through life. Meals together are often times where the important issues in life are discussed with openness and honesty. Our Centre is strictly illicit drug-free and as regards alcohol, we encourage volunteers to try an alcohol-free time with us or limit their consumption to the odd beer or wine.
We ask for five hours work a day, five days a week (depends on the weather). That leaves plenty of time in the afternoons to relax around the property, swim, go for walks, lie in a hammock and read poetry etc.
To help us make a fast decision for you PLEASE WOULD YOU EMAIL US FIRST WITH SOME INFO ON six pieces of information: 1. any work experience or qualifications that might be useful at our Centre (see for para above), 2. your age, 3. how long you'd like to stay and starting from what date, 4. how good is your English speaking on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the very fluent), 5. whether you have your own transport or need a pick up from the Ongarue Turn-off (see below) and 6. what is your mobile phone number, if you have one.
YOUR HOSTS The Centre is run by Marty and Sylvie, two happy global nomads who are multi-lingual and live half the year in NZ and half the year at their home in Provence, France, from where they run a film production company () and a professional photography business (). Marty is a fifth generation kiwi but was born in India and went to school in the Himalayan mountains, in the same town as the Dalai Lama. He is a buddhist by spiritual leanings and meditates every day. He's worked in 40 countries around the world, in government, development aid, banking and running my own company - and once spent a year with Mother Theresa working as a paramedic in the slums of Calcutta! He's also studied economics, business and finance for 7 years at university and has various diplomas in psychology, NLP and counselling and other topics. In his earlier days he was a veteran eco-warrior, risking his life a couple of times in the anti-nuclear movement that led NZ to become the first nuclear-free nation in history, the anti-logging campaign which successfully stopped all logging of NZ's native forests and the pro-cycle way campaign that has resulted in NZ developing one of the world's best networks of outdoor cycleways. Sylvie is from France and has extensive personal and professional experience in nutrition, organics, meditation and various alternative healing methods. She is also a professional photographer and has lived for many years in a range of countries besides France - such Australia, New Caledonia, NZ. Having practiced yoga since the age of 12 and meditation since her early 20s and lived a healthy life, tests have shown that Sylvie has a biological age that is 15 years younger than her chronological age.
OUR VISION The reason we set up the Centre was to provide a haven and rest for young people who are looking for a deeper level of peace and meaning in life or who need help in difficult life situations. And over the years we've been teaching a dozen or so life-skills to help young people find a place of happiness on this planet. We are not allied with any particular philosophy or religion and aim to adhere as closely as possible to a simple, environmentally respectful, socially engaged and compassionate set of values. The motto of the Centre is "Learn, Laugh and Love". We are now shifting our emphasis to making free movies for young people addressing key issues of this generation and the future of the planet.
LEARNING There is a good library at the Centre covering a very wide range of topics and over 1500 books. You are encouraged to do some reading/study while you are here. We have run a range of courses for young people over the years, including on nutrition, healing, meditation and recovery from trauma. However, these courses are now being phased out as we focus more on making free movies for the internet via and (when we have rooms available), rent out rooms to paying guests to raise funds for our non-profit activities. Why film making? Because we feel that we can touch many more young lives via the internet, than through hands-on training courses. The Centre nonetheless remains for young people to learn and grow by using the library and other resources available with us.
HOW TO GET TO THE CENTRE
If you don't have transport and don't want to hitch hike, the best way is to get a bus (no trains stop locally) via either or . If you have the funds, we would recommend you buy Back Packer Bus Pass ($119 for 15 hours of bus travel anywhere in NZ).
For travel from Auckland and there are two bus services:(a) Intercity has two $25 (one-way) bus services that leave from either (i) (downtown) Sky City Coach Terminal, 102 Hobson St at 9:00 am or (ii) Auckland International Airport at 8.05 am - and arrive at about 1:30 pm at the "Ongarue Turnoff" on State Highway 4. This is 3 km from the Centre and we can pick you up from there. (b) Naked Bus has a $35 service that leaves from Auckland International Airport at 7:15 am and arrives in Te Kuiti at 11:15 (about 50 minutes drive from the Centre). We would suggest you hitch hike from Te Kuiti to the "Ongarue Turnoff", where we can pick you up as above.
For travel from the Tongariro National Park/Ruapehu Ski-fields, there is a direct connection ($15 one way) via intercity.co.nz from Ohakune to the Ongarue Turnoff that leaves at 12:50 pm.For travel from TAUPO, you will probably need to hitchike to Ongarue Turnoff (can do this easily in a day).
For travel from Wellington or Palmerston North or Wanganui, there are bus services as well.
Please note that googlemaps shows our address as 52 - not 7 - Ongarue Village Road. After you get to the Ongarue Turn-off between Te Kuiti and Taumarunui on State Highway 4, turn left at a large signpost. After 3km you will see a signpost saying ‘Ongarue’ . Turn right over the railway tracks and we are about 200 meters down the road on the right - just opposite the Oasis Flashpackers/Ongarue Store on the left, and just before the Ongarue Saleyards (lots of sheep fences!), on the right. You can see the Church (photo on this site) from the road and that's where our driveway is (and where Marty & Sylvie live).
DIY and building projects
Help with Eco Projects
This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.
We live in a very small village and our neighbours are 95% Maori (the indigenous people of NZ). Across the (trout-filled) river that borders our property there is a Marae (Maori meeting house) and from time to time we can hear Maori songs and chants. One needs to be invited onto this Marae (so not easy to arrange a visit) but there are other Marae in Taumarunui (20 km away that are easy to visit). Apart from that you would have a chance to learn about organic gardening, meditation and yoga and we have a volunteers lounge with about 1000 books (in English) covering many topics of interest. Further afield there are many community groups and tourist destinations of interest (see elsewhere in this profile). As your hosts, we speak French and Hindi as well as English.
The main areas we need help this year is help with our organic vegie garden and orchards and help with painting a large building (a 200 m2 School House which is used by volunteers). Apart from that we always have various projects on the boil.
This is not a 5-star facility but it is a cosy and very friendly place where you have the opportunity to learn a lot about self-sufficiency and about life in general. While with us volunteers stay in their own 100-year old Miller's Cottage which has 5 bedrooms (each with their own bathrooms) a large hot tub outside (heated when we have lots of guests), free internet and a 1000 book library covering many topics from organics and animal care to nutrition to happiness and meditation - plus a communal kitchen/sitting room. Volunteers normally cook breakfast and the evening meal (chores can be rotated) and we all eat lunch together. The food is vegetarian + fish but we're not extremists on this, so if others would like to eat meat, they can buy this themselves from a supermarket, 15 minutes drive away.
There are many fun things to do when the work is over ... from kayaking to fishing to swimming in the 30 metre swimming hole near the Centre to cycling, reading in one of the hammocks or just having a soak in the communal hot tub, which fits about 8 people (it's not on all the time so you will need to ask). Marty and Sylvie teach free meditation classes for interested volunteers and there are yoga and other similar classes in nearby Taumarunui (which also has all the food and other shops you might need).
Further afield, our region has one of the most concentrated set of recreational activities in NZ - swimming, bicycling, walking, ski-ing, rafting, kayaking and even sailing, all within about one hour's travel. The Timber Trail Cycleway, which ends at our Centre, has been rated one of the top 100 Things To Do in NZ, the famous National Park Crossings Walk (NZ's second most popular tourist attraction) , the Ruapehu Ski-fields (the largest in the Southern Hemisphere) and Waitomo Glow Worm Caves are an hour away. There are magnificent kayak trips on the nearby Wanganui River and trips along a private railway (in electric golf carts) for several days.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
More than two
4 hours a day with two day off a week (max 25 hours)