Volunteer Activities


Extreme Weeding Opportunities

Motutapu Extreme Weeding 
Have you got what it takes to be an Extreme Weeder?

Did you know the Auckland region is the 2nd weediest place on the planet? We reckon most of those weeds grow in our Motutapu Central Gully. Here is an opportunity to tackle the insidious moth plant. Are you up for it?


Over the last few years a dedicated team of regular volunteers have tackled infestations of moth plant (and several other nuisance weeds) in the Home Bay Valley forest.  Over 18 years, volunteers have planted this forest using seed from the remnant bush areas on the island. The planted area is now extending westward towards Central Gully. 

Central Gully is heavily infested with Moth Plant as well as hosting other nasties such as Sydney Wattle, Woolly Nightshade, Rhamnus and Apple of Sodom. Moth Plant seeds are transported by the wind which on the island is a prevailing westerly. Seeds have blown into the Home Bay Valley forest, taken root and the virulent vines have grown skyward up through our trees to seed again and again.

Our Extreme Weeders have made some headway in controlling the spread of Moth Plant in the Home Bay Valley Forest but we are thwarted by fresh seed blowing across from Central Gully.

While not neglecting our new forest we need to concentrate more on weed control in Central Gully. This is particularly difficult due to the steep terrain, the height of the host trees and the sheer volume of juvenile plants, mature vines and countless pods.

Join us in combatting the spread of this pernicious weed which is such a threat to our remnant areas and newly planted forest.

If you think you've got what it takes to be an Extreme Weeder join us. The battle continues most Sundays and by arrangement some weekdays. You need old clothes, (moth plant has a staining sap), waterproof boots (for wading across streams), and no fear of getting hot and dirty.  We supply tools and gloves.

Please register your interest by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or phone (09 522 0919) or text (0275 570 845). Make sure you mention Extreme 

Nursery Work

This work involves pricking out native seedlings from seed trays into root trainers or potting up plants into PB's (plastic bags). Root trainers and PBs need to be filled with potting mix before seedlings are transferred into them.

Sometimes the potted plants need weeding and the nursery often requires a clean up. A low level of fitness is required. We transport you to our nursery situated at the Rangitoto (western) side of the island near Islington Bay.

Through the power of numbers we raise about 20,000 native plants each year. Volunteers have raised over 500,000 plants during the last 18 years! Many of our vols find nursery work very satisfying as this is where the future forest is born!

Tree Planting

Overthe winter months this is arguably our glamour volunteering task. Volunteers have the enjoyable task of putting into the ground native plants which have been produced in the nursery This includes grounding our matured nursery pb's (plastic bagged bigger plants) and also, on occasion, pricked out root trainers ('books' containing 4 plantlings, 50 per basket)  

Our planting sites vary, some being on steep hillsides while others are in valley or wetland areas. Volunteers are encouraged to work in teams of two or three with one digging holes in the amazingly friable, volcanic soil while the others fill the holes with plants and repack the soil.

Refer our site planting demo. Of course, once you've grounded a plant on the island you forever have connection with what will one day be the biggest island conservation park in the nation. Once your saplings have been grounded, you will find it immensely satisfying watching how your plants have grown each time you come out to visit and knowing that one day they will be part of a mature native forest. 

Planting trees requires a reasonable level of fitness.

Weed busting

Control of invasive weeds is an essential component of native reafforestation. Weed busting plays a vital part in our volunteer programme. Moth plant, woolly nightshade, apple of Sodom, gorse and rhamnus are exotic weeds which threaten the precious native forest planted by volunteers. 

Ink weed, gorse, datura, fennel, and climbing dock are also a nuisance. The Home Bay Forest is thoroughly searched by volunteers looking for infestations of moth plant and other weeds. Central Gully is also a focus of moth plant removal. Volunteers complement the work of professional weed teams to ensure that the regenerating native bush is protected from further weed invasion.

Weed control is addictive with many of our volunteers preferring this to other activities. Weed busting requires a reasonable level of fitness and is a great chance to see how the volunteer forests are growing and regenerating. This activity is ideally suited to those outdoors types who like to get stuck in and mix it with these nasties.


As Motutapu is also home to Auckland region's largest pastoral farm, it is most important to maintain, in good condition, the fences separating the stock from the native bush. From time to time, volunteers with fencing skills are required to construct or repair fences around the regenerating native ecosystems. Stock invasions can be an issue if any of the fences are compromised.

Property Repairs and Grounds' Maintenance
Volunteers are required for the repair and maintenance of some of the structures on the island including the nursery, the Reid Homestead, the Red Barn, some heritage military sites, and School House. Ideally suited for the home handymen among us.  

Seed Collection
Native plant seeds for sowing in the nursery are largely collected from remnant and planted forest on Motutapu or Rangitoto. Where seed supply is inadequate for species known to have existed on Motutapu, seed may be obtained from within the ecological district up to a 12 km distance. This means the seeds are ecosourced. Our core volunteers are expert at recognising when seeds are ready for harvest.  

Beach Cleanups
Motutapu is blessed with a long coastline with several attractive beaches. These beaches benefit from a rubbish clean up from time to time to help keep these special places looking beautiful. This activity can happen any time of the year and is suited to adults and children. A lower level of fitness is required. This activity often also provides a good opportunity to explore Motutapu.

Wildlife Monitoring
The monitoring of wildlife (birds, reptiles and invertebrates).

Maintaining Military Sites
For those history buffs interested in maintaining our amazing collection of military sites on the island.

Set up days ('SUDs')
Each Saturday before a planting day we need a team of up to 6 volunteers to 'set up' for the planting day. This involves moving the plants (in root trainers and pbs) from the nursery to the planting site and requires a moderate level of fitness and a little bit of muscle! Set up volunteers then overnight on the island staying at School House, our volunteer accommodation base alongside the nursery at the Islington Bay end of the island. If you are interested in knowing more about being involved in a 'SUD' please let us know.

Do you prefer weed busting to planting?
The weed team operates every planting day to continue the fight against moth plant and other invasive weeds. If you want to join the winter weed team please let us know when you register so we can ensure we have enough equipment available.

Nau te rourou, naku te rourou,ka ora te manuhiri; - Your food basket my food basket will satisfy the guest
Nau te rakau, naku te rakau,ka mate te hoariri. - My weapon and your weapon will dispose of the enemy (which we can interpret as the wildlife pests and plant pests resident on Motutapu)

Unsure what you would like to help us with?
No problem, there is something fun for absolutely everybody. No special skills are required, we will show you what to do.