Updated for 2023-2024
You don’t have to be a heroic explorer, like the ocean-faring Polynesian people, to dream of traveling to Australia and nearby islands in the South Pacific. There are abundant reasons to visit the region, including trips that connect you with indigenous people in developing nations. As a volunteer or intern in this region, you can help with projects that range from teaching English to school children in Fiji, to reef conservation in Australia, or public health in Samoa.
Australasia is a region of Oceania that’s composed of Australia, New Zealand, and nearby islands in the Pacific Ocean. Oceania, which contains a lot of water as its name indicates, is more than 3 million square miles and more than 40 million people live here. The first settlers of this area arrived nearly 50,000 years ago, and are believed to be among the earliest human migrations, moving out of Africa and into Asia more than 70,000 years ago. Seafaring people kept moving, studying the stars and the waves and hopping from one island to the next on their massive double canoes.
When you travel to the South Pacific, you’ll be able to learn firsthand about these fascinating people whose Polynesian ancestors beached their boats on empty islands and atolls, and over the millennia, transformed these tropical paradises, deserts, mountains, and rainforests into homes and communities that endure today.
Check out some of the best volunteering opportunities in Australasia and the Pacific:
International Volunteer HQ has sent more than 130,000 volunteers to programs in more than 40 countries since its founding in 2007. A trusted and affordable organization, IVHQ’s programs start from just $20 per day.
If you want to volunteer in Fiji, IVHQ has numerous programs that you should check out (from $340 for one week). Volunteer as a sports teacher and English teacher, or take part in construction and renovation projects.
IVHQ also has several projects in New Zealand (from $885 for two weeks). Support local NGOs, where you could be doing everything from helping with beach cleanups to assisting at education centers – IVHQ’s coast and waterway conservation project is another option offered in New Zealand.
Since opening their doors in 1992, Projects Abroad has sent 10,000 volunteers and interns abroad on average each year, and have numerous options for volunteering and experiencing culture in the Pacific and Australasia region. Here’s a chance to soak up the tropical scenery in the South Pacific when you join a volunteer project in Fiji or Samoa with Projects Abroad. Not only will you have the opportunity to live on these stunning islands, but you’ll also be able to contribute to the wellbeing of local communities. They have many projects to suit all types of interests, including:
- Shark Conservation in Fiji: Sharks are among the most misunderstood and endangered animals in the world. In Fiji, you can dive with the bull sharks and help collect valuable scientific data for their protection. You’ll earn your PADI Open Water certification while doing so. This exciting program starts from $4,250 for two weeks ($5,410 for four weeks).
- Nutrition internship in Fiji: Address health issues like diabetes and heart disease by creating awareness in communities. You can help reduce the number of recorded cases by promoting the value of good nutrition and daily exercise. Prices start from $2,900 for two weeks ($3,660 for four weeks).
- Community volunteering in a Samoan village: Live like a local in a traditional island village and contribute to ongoing initiatives that support communities in need. You’ll spend your days learning from local Samoans, while teaching children or running workshops on healthy eating. Fees begin from $2,600 for two weeks ($3,260 for four weeks).
- Coach rugby in Samoa: Samoa is a passionate rugby-playing nation. However, due to a lack of coaching in disadvantaged communities, many children don’t get the opportunity to play. You can teach them the rules of the game and encourage them to be active and get fitter. Prices are $2,600 for two weeks and $3,260 for four weeks.
Are you in search of a life-changing experience and an opportunity to make a genuine difference in communities around the world? Involvement Volunteers International (IVI), founded in 1989, invites individuals to join the ranks of over 25,000 volunteers who’ve made a lasting impact in 112 projects spread across 23 countries.
Why IVI Stands Out
With a legacy spanning over 34 years, IVI distinguishes itself as a non-profit that actively supports local communities, particularly in the South Pacific regions of Fiji and Vanuatu, as well as in India. Unlike many organizations, IVI has built many of its projects from the ground up. Beyond offering travel and volunteering experiences, they play a significant role in the humanitarian sector, aiding impoverished communities and refugees. They also provide university students the opportunity to fulfill their practicum hours in sectors such as mental health, medical, teaching, and veterinary projects.
Family and Group Adventures
Whether one is a solo adventurer, a family unit, a group, or a teen, IVI has projects tailored to fit each need. Their family-friendly ventures encompass kindergarten teaching, construction, environmental initiatives, and animal care projects. For larger groups, IVI presents specialized itineraries combining volunteering programs with engaging activities, making them an ideal choice for school groups.
For volunteers aged 16-17, a signed parental consent from their guardians is a prerequisite. Some of IVI’s projects also accommodate younger kids, ensuring they remain under parental or guardian watch.
Interested in learning what sets IVI apart? Dive deeper into their story by visiting “Who We Are” and “Why IVI?” on their official website: volunteering.org.au
Embarking on a journey with IVI promises to enrich both the individual and the world at large. The adventure awaits!
Volunteer in Fiji (Flagship Program)
Fiji is Involvement Volunteers International’s premier destination where they have over 25 years of operation history. With over one third of the population below the poverty line, malnutrition, and low literacy rates, Fijian communities desperately need the support of international volunteers. IVI offers project opportunities in five different parts of Fiji with projects including Public Health & Nutrition, Teaching, Construction, Medical Care, and more. Project fees are extremely affordable starting at just $295 and includes accommodation, meals, airport pickup, 24/7 in-country support and so much more. Click here to learn more about volunteering in Fiji with IVI.
Vanuatu is a South Pacific island nation between Fiji and Australia. Vanuatu’s population is largely impoverished with only 58% of people having access to electricity and one third of people lacking access to basic services. Furthermore, the island nation has one of the highest rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, and malnutrition in the world necessitating the need for strong public health interventions. As a public health volunteer, you’ll conduct health screenings for local communities, raise awareness about nutrition and diabetes, and design exercise programs for villagers. Program fees start at $1150 for two weeks. Click here to learn more and apply.
Samoa is a South Pacific island nation northeast of Fiji. Samoa is very much a developing country and its population has one of the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the world. As a public health volunteer, you’ll conduct blood glucose tests for the local community, design fitness programs for villagers, and raise awareness about the importance of healthy eating and exercise. Alternatively, if you’re interested in public health, you can consider volunteering as an English teacher. Program fees start at $1025 for two weeks and includes accommodation with a Samoan host family. Click here to learn more and apply.
Founded in 1998, GVI has several award-winning volunteer programs and has made a name for itself in sustainable, adventurous expeditions around the world.
Current GVI programs in Fiji include the Coral Reef Research project, a great choice for those interested in marine conservation (from $4,095 for four weeks), and the Marine Conservation and PADI Divemaster Internship, where you can earn professional divemaster qualification while exploring the crystal blue waters (the 24-week program costs $11,695). Another program to check out is the Alternative Livelihoods initiative, where you will get involved with community-building programs (from $2,395 for two weeks).
For teens looking to volunteer in the Pacific, Global Leadership Adventures is a great organization to go with. They have two programs in Fiji:
- Fiji: Children of the South Pacific: Spend three weeks teaching children at a summer camp. Enjoy local culture, snorkel, hike, and more during free time – the program fee is $5,399.
- Fiji: Marine Conservation Expedition: Live in a beachside bungalow as you protect local ocean life and experience ancient island culture. The program lasts two weeks and costs $3,699.
Frontier began in 1989 and has sent more than 103,000 volunteers, interns, and adventurers abroad. Featuring unique, off-the-beaten-path programs, they’re a great choice for volunteering in the Pacific.
Here are a few of Frontier’s programs in the South Pacific:
- Cook Islands: Teach English in a tropical paradise or engage in community building projects (both programs start from $1,895 for four weeks).
- Papua New Guinea: Teach about conservation, help with village infrastructure development, and participate in cultural activities in the Papua New Guinea Village Project (from $2,045 for four weeks).
- New Zealand: From ethical conservation projects ($1,045 for two weeks) to adrenaline-junkie travel excursions ($1,595 for 12 days) to mountain ski safaris ($1,595 for seven days), Frontier offers it all in New Zealand.
Operating in more than 40 countries, Global Nomadic has sent more than 10,000 volunteers and interns abroad since 2009. For those looking to volunteer in Fiji or New Zealand, they have numerous programs in each country.
Join the Fiji Healthcare Education program (€375 per week, or $440), and contribute to health awareness projects. Or, give your time to the Fiji Language and Cultural Exchange program (€325 per week, or $380), and immerse yourself in the local culture.
If you want to go to New Zealand, consider the New Zealand Off-Grid Environmental Conservation project (from $2,250 for eight weeks) or the Off-Grid Hospitality Internship(from $1,350 for eight weeks).
Fronteering makes a point to take volunteers and interns off the beaten path so they can truly immerse themselves in other cultures. The projects focus on preserving the precious natural world and uplifting indigenous peoples around the world. For volunteering in the Pacific and Australasia, they have lots of great programs, like:
- Kiwi Conservation in New Zealand: Head to the North Island and take part in activities to protect local endangered wildlife, such as Kiwi birds, and their habitats (from $795 for two weeks).
- Devil Care and Release in Australia: Journey to Tasmania and assist with the care and release of Tasmanian Devils, whose population is declining quickly and needs help (from $995 for one week).
- Koala Sanctuary in Australia: Hosted in Queensland, you get to get up and close with koalas as you care for them. You’ll also encounter kangaroos, wombats, emus, and other fascinating Australian animals (from $1,795 for four weeks).
- Kangaroo Island in Australia: Head to South Australia and help out with the daily operations at Kangaroo Island Wildlife Sanctuary (from $1,795 for two weeks).
- Horse Rescue in Australia: Take care of abused and neglected horses at a sanctuary in Queensland (from $995 for three weeks).
Trustworthy and affordable, Plan My Gap Year gets a lot of support and recommendations from past volunteers. Current volunteer programs in the Pacific offered by Plan My Gap Year include:
- Fiji English Teaching: Teach English and provide support to local teachers at either an urban or rural school. Fees start from $639 for two weeks.
- Fiji Childcare: Give much-needed assistance to childcare and education facilities in Suva. Fees start from $639 for two weeks.
Ready to Travel?
Need another reason to visit Australasia and the Pacific? How about several? From the beautiful scenery and diverse landscapes, there are hikes and walking tours for people of all levels of fitness, that let you explore rugged coastlines and lush forests. Another reason is the opportunity to meet and learn more about the customs of the indigenous people. Spend time in the warm, beautiful South Pacific water, learning how to scuba dive or snorkel a coral reef, or learn how to surf! You’re surrounded by clear blue water, so don’t waste it by staying on the beach. Get wild and visit animal reserves and zoos. Meet unusual wildlife such as the kangaroo, the wallaby, wombat, or the koala.
Whatever your reasons for traveling to the South Pacific, take time to enjoy your stay and do good while you’re there.