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Volunteering Opportunities


Experiencing Marine Reserves runs a series of free snorkel and kayak days in the weekends which we need volunteers for. As a volunteer, you can help us provide safe and supervised experiences for school and community groups and the public, enabling participants to experience our beautiful marine and freshwater environments first-hand. 

The roles of volunteers vary throughout the day, we greatly appreciate volunteer assistance in setting up, running, and packing down our events. Set up may involve, setting out snorkelling gear, setting up gazebos and tables, taking photos etc. During the events we may ask for your help in getting people into and out of gear, collecting evaluations and giving non-participants information on our events! One of the most fun jobs on the day however is getting into the water as one of our volunteer snorkel guides! 

We provide you with training, either prior to events or on the day itself, and for our communinty events we will provide you with a yummy lunch. If you are available during the week we also run school programmes, where extra helpers are always appreciated. 

In the Auckland and Northland Region we are providing a number of training opportunities in the lead up to our Summer events - register to find out more.



volunteer banner website 2


Register for your region below

  2019.05.18 PKSnorkelDay LD 03290


Preparing to become an EMR volunteer 

All volunteers must complete this quiz: https://forms.gle/pkNpnKAxGzL66b757 
(this is an open book quiz, please read through the EMR Volunteer training modules before completing the quiz)

pdfEMR_Volunteer_Training_Modules_October_2023.pdf7.64 MB

Quick References

Youtube: EMR Biodiversity and Conservation Webinar

pdfEmergency_Response_Flow_Chart.pdf66.32 KB

pdfFish Identification Chart and snorkel briefing checklist.pdf1.1 MB 

Previous volunteers write about their experience with EMR

For more stories - check out the trip reports written by volunteers.

Koha Kahui-McConnell (November 2019)

I began a journey with EMR after a meeting with Lorna Doogan, discussing how best to get our Rangatahi into te taiao. We agreed the only logical answer was to throw them headfirst, to see if they float. Following this hui, they offered to train my colleagues and I as volunteer snorkel guides and as helping hands on the subsequent haerenga that we planned.
The training was effective and well rounded, ensuring that everyone had a basic understanding of what EMR was as an entity. We were then tested on our skills in the water and given examples of aquatic life that these amazing trips had to offer. Once the training day was completed, the feeling of accomplishment was surpassed only by the desire to want to get into te taiao. I then had the privilege of accompanying EMR to take out four mana Rangatahi from Para Kore Ki Tāmaki to Tawhiti Rahi (The Poor Knights), volunteering as a guide.

 website image koha

The 3-hour journey to Tutukaka was humming with excitement, forethoughts of wonderous blues and amazing life aquatic flooded all thoughts. Travelling with Dive! Tutukaka, we were treated with ebbing swells that dipped and swayed, serving as a reminder that this is the Tangaroa, we are only visitors. The skipper was engaging and attentive and ensured that everyone knew the safety procedures and understood where we were going, Lorna briefed all the guides and made sure that we were all comfortable in what our roles were. I was fortunate enough to have been given a more experienced group of participants, meaning that I simply had to make sure that they enjoyed themselves and that none of them got lost.


I have been asked to write as pure of a report on this experience to the best of my abilities, however I simply do not have the lexicon required to describe what I saw and felt. In other words, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

The Poor Knights marine reserve is the most perfect example of an eco-system that I had ever seen. Kina have to hide because the prehistoric looking snapper prowl the forests of kelp and seaweed, eagle rays lay peacefully under foot and the Sandager wrasses have no problem greeting you with a big bucktoothed kiss. Incredible blue algae (Champia laingii) dotted itself across the waterscape, like a breadcrumb trail set by ancients, amazing visibility meant the trail made itself clear. A few Manus off the boat and a few underwater hero shots and it was time to head back. Stopping in the cave the Para Kore Ki Tāmaki Rangatahi performed Ka Pioioi, using the amazing natural acoustic capabilities to fill the entire space with powerful melodies.


All in all, this has been one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. If I could suggest anything to anyone, it would be to volunteer for EMR and make sure that you visit this incredible taonga.

My experience with EMR - Eryn Hooper (March 2014)

I was really lucky to have to opportunity to help out on a community guided snorkel day on Waiheke Island and be involved in a schools snorkel day at Leigh. It was a real privilege to be involved in such an inspiring programme which clearly engages a wide variety of people and teaches them important lessons about the fragile marine environment. It was so great to see so many excited faces when the fish came right up to us and I, as well as the members of the public, learnt a lot about the species in New Zealand’s waters. Particularly on the schools snorkel day it was really encouraging to see the younger generation being taught in this interactive way about such an important issue. It was clear that the experience of being in the water with so many marine species would be a memory that would stay with them, like it has for me.

Before coming to New Zealand I worked on a project monitoring newly established marine reserves in the UK. Working with EMR made me realise how much progress can be made by engaging with local communities and allowing them to see first-hand how much difference protecting the marine environment can make. We need more projects like these around the world and Samara and her team should be very proud of the programme that they run.

Thank you Samara for letting me get involved with your great scheme. I just wished I could have spent more time with you but I hope to be back one day when I can do just that.

Eryn Hooper (March 2014)

Our EMR Experience - Alison Armstrong and Anna Belcher (UK)

We spent two weeks volunteering for EMR in Whangarei, helping schools and communities experience their marine environment through snorkelling. We were lucky to be involved in the preparation and running of snorkelling sessions at some amazing locations on the North Island, such as; Goat Island, Reotahi, and The Poor Knights. It was amazing for us to see such a diversity of fish and gave us the opportunity to acquire fish identification skills. Not only this but we got to see how the children reacted to these incredible environments and see the excitement on their faces, “Did you see that fish? It was massive! Sweet as”. It was great to see how well the programme was working and how far it has progressed. The kids really seemed to gain an appreciation for their marine environment and why marine reserves are important.

The volunteer work gave us a chance to learn more about marine outreach programmes and how to successfully educate groups of children (and adults) whilst keeping them engaged and giving them an enjoyable experience. We really think that actually getting out there, seeing and experiencing the marine environment is the best way to learn about it. We each worked with a member of the EMR team, helping to run the snorkelling sessions and were also involved in maintenance of all the gear. It definitely gave us an appreciation of how hard the EMR team work to make a session successful. We’re pretty sure that we now hold the world record for the number of wetsuits glued and stitched!

Not only did EMR provide us both with a great experience and knowledge of marine outreach programmes but they also helped us find accommodation whilst we were volunteering. Without this support we wouldn’t have been able to spend as long volunteering, and really appreciate how helpful and enthusiastic the team were. We felt like we were actually useful to the team as we were quickly given roles of responsibility. They were keen to get us involved in all aspects of EMR projects and we both think we gained a lot from our time volunteering.

Thank you for everything Samara, Kim and Nicki, keep up the good work, maybe we’ll be back in New Zealand one day :-)