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Helpers stories of HelpXing...

Alan & Frans' Story - New Zealand 2006

My boyfriend Alan and I found HelpX on the sixth page of a Google search and we're so glad we did! Of the eight months we spent in New Zealand, five months were spent at various hosts chosen from the HelpX website: staying on farms, hostels and home stays. This allowed us to see more of the country and get more involved with the local way of life than we ever would have been able to do purely by staying in hostels. For example, at our first host in Puhoi (population of 450) we were invited to a masquerade ball, a private function attended by members of the sports club. In preparation, we spent the day with our hosts creating masks and outfits to wear, and really felt involved. We were made so welcome at the ball in a village that, without HelpX, we would have driven straight through, passing it off as another tiny dot on the map.

We've also stayed in some pretty amazing places. One of our favourite aspects of HelpX is that you never quite know what the building you'll be staying in is like (and the best places are always very modest in their description to ensure they only get genuine helpers). Just when we thought we'd seen the most amazing houses, we were collected from Picton by a new host and transported across the Queen Charlotte Sound to Double Cove, where we were dropped off on our own private jetty. We stayed in our own little cottage, not connected by any roads, and each week a food hamper would arrive on the end of the jetty with supplies. The views were fantastic (as were the hosts) and there was wildlife all around, including rays in the shallows of our bay. Not many hostels can boast that!

The work was varied, and between us we did all sorts: sanding & painting, household chores, chopping wood, looking after horses, calves and lambs, pruning flowers for export, basic carpentry, secretarial work, bush clearing, path building, renovation work, the list goes on. It wasn't always easy - my muscles have gotten bigger! - and much of the time we were outdoors come rain or shine, but having returned to the UK we can now tackle pretty much any task. We've also learnt a load of new skills. For example when staying in Erua (Ruapehu area), our hosts went above and beyond the '4 hours work for digs' arrangement and spent much time teaching me natural horsemanship techniques, something that I hope to carry on practicing now I'm back.

Each host is very different, so we were careful to choose those with similar interests to us. For this reason we got on well with six out of our seven hosts. Some we stayed only the minimum amount of time with, and others we really clicked with and asked to stay longer. Whether we stayed for one week or three months each host gave us different experiences, new skills and a lot of laughs!

Most of all, the HelpX hosts created a feeling of being 'home away from home' and we don't know what we would have done without them! Thank you to all of our hosts.

HelpX is an opportunity not to be missed.

Fran Mudd from England

Sunset over the back garden, Double Cove

Boys in the boat, Double Cove

Look what we made, Double Cove

Fran working on a cattle farm, Karamea.

Alan working on a cattle farm, Karamea.

Learning natural horsemanship techniques, Erua. (In the pen that we built as helpers)

Alpaca farm, Cheviot.


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