Āpiha Papa Atawhai
Rangers protect, enhance and maintain conservation and recreation areas such as regional and national parks, forests, wetlands, reserves, and sites of cultural importance.
New rangers usually earn
$39K-$51K per year
Experienced rangers usually earn
$47K-$89K per year
Source: DOC and Greater Wellington Regional Council, 2018.
Pay for rangers varies depending on experience, qualifications and the type of work they do.
- Entry-level rangers at the Department of Conservation (DOC) usually start on minimum wage to $47,000 a year.
- Entry-level park or maintenance rangers in local or regional government parks usually start on about $43,000 and $51,000.
- Experienced DOC rangers usually earn between $47,000 and $65,000.
- Park rangers with three or more years' experience usually earn between $55,000 and $88,000.
- Senior DOC rangers or supervisors with more responsibilities can earn from $56,000 to $89,000 a year.
Sources: Department of Conservation, 2018; and Greater Wellington Regional Council, 2018.
- PAYE.net.nz website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Employment New Zealand website - information about minimum wage rates
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Rangers may do some or all of the following:
- monitor, manage and protect native wildlife, habitats and plants
- control and monitor pests and weeds, and run native plant nurseries
- patrol marine reserves and enforce compliance by-laws
- make or maintain tracks, toilets, huts, signs, fences
- keep park, reserve or campsite amenities clean, and remove rubbish
- protect and restore historic sites
- build and maintain links with the local community and iwi
- assist and give information to visitors of parks or reserves
- develop and oversee volunteer and education programmes
- support and monitor concession holders and property licence holders such as graziers.
Skills and knowledge
Rangers need to have some or all of the following:
- tramping and hiking experience and knowledge
- horticulture and pest control skills
- animal and bird-handling skills
- an understanding of legislation relevant to conservation work
- knowledge of New Zealand natural history, plants, animals and cultural issues
- knowledge of outdoor recreation
- building and track maintenance skills.
- usually work regular business hours, but may also work evenings and weekends
- work in offices and outdoors, in areas such as national or regional parks and wildlife reserves
- work outdoors in all weather conditions
- may have to travel to attend meetings or spend days away from home working in remote areas.
What's the job really like?
Diversity in ranger jobs
"I think when you say park ranger a lot of people just think of someone maybe in DOC that's looking after a wilderness environment. We're on this urban fringe, near Wellington, and the issues are a lot different. We're dealing with the public a lot more. We've got so many neighbours. Being out in the wilderness you've got no neighbours. You're maintaining tracks and biodiversity, but here we're got a bit of everything."
Being the face of a park
"Being a park ranger is being the face of the place, being able to answer questions and being out there and talking to people when you're out and about. That's more of a thing with park rangers than anything."
What's an average week like for you?
"Most days I'll go to Dry Creek and check the camping area. That's the toilets, make sure they're clean, toilet paper is stocked up, pick up any rubbish. Then during the start of the month it's inspections and ranger reports. My week can start off completely free and then each day something else happens. I suppose our work is fairly reactionary. Being in the park ranger roles, if something needs to be fixed, we'll have to problem solve and get it fixed."
Matiu Mataira talks about life as a ranger - 2.41 mins. (Video courtesy of Department of Conservation)
I guess I've always had a sweet spot for the great outdoors. I love my hunting, I love getting out into the bush, and just love meeting people within our ngahere really.
I joined the Department 5 years ago now, as a Maori cadet. It was quite a unique program where a lot of our learnings was based on the marae noho, so we learned both the Maori world view of how of they look after conservation, and also our Western science and joining the two together - the best of both worlds.
What does your typical work day involve?
My typical work day involves a lot of meetings. I meet a lot of new people, particularly with iwi, hapu and whanau, but also with a lot with our community groups, and businesses as well.
Really it's based around listening to what their aspirations are and how we can both support each other.
What do you like most about your job?
I like the variety within the Department. One day I can be out on the island, the next day I can be on an international fire deployment.
I think the best thing I like about my mahi is the actual people involved in it. Particularly within the Department we have a lot of knowledgeable people based here. We have a lot of very passionate and dedicated people. But also meeting new people as well. Working alongside community groups, iwi, hapu, whanau, and also with businesses as well.
What's the best story you've been able to tell after a day at work?
I guess the best story so far has been sitting with the nannies and the koros in the marae, listening to their stories around the old ways on how they used to culturally harvest kiwi and kūkupa, and one of the nannies turning around and going "Kia ora boy. Who do you work for?", and my reply "I work for the Department of Conservation, nanny", and just the look on their faces when they heard that - priceless.
What's your advice for people wanting to work for DOC?
I guess my advice for people wanting to work for the Department is come down and meet your local rangers; come in and get involved – volunteer work; bring a bit of enthusiasm, passion; visit our careers website; and just enjoy the ride.
There are no specific entry requirements to become a ranger. However, a New Zealand Certificate in Conservation (Operations) (Level 4) may be useful.
You gain this qualification by completing the trainee ranger programme run by the Department of Conservation (DOC) at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) or Toi Ohomai in the Bay of Plenty.
A relevant Bachelor of Science degree may also be useful. Tertiary students can major in parks and outdoor recreation at Lincoln University.
- Department of Conservation website - information on ranger qualifications and training
- Lincoln University website - information about majoring in parks and outdoor recreation
There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a ranger. However, te reo Māori, biology, construction and mechanical technologies, geography, agricultural and horticultural science, and physical education are useful.
Rangers need to be:
- adaptable and practical
- safety conscious
- able to remain calm in emergencies
- motivated, as they may have to work in difficult conditions, such as outdoors in bad weather
- able to work independently or as part of a team
- friendly, patient and helpful, as they deal with the public
- knowledgeable about first aid.
You have to be very self-motivated and enjoy working by yourself because a lot of the time you will be working alone.
Useful experience for rangers includes:
- doing volunteer conservation work with a group
- taking online courses run by the Department of Conservation
- outdoor experience such as tramping, camping or farming
- doing a First Aid Certificate or Risk Management Certificate course
- building work
- experience with native birds and insects
- customer service.
A knowledge and understanding of Māori culture and protocol is also useful.
Rangers need to have excellent fitness and health as the job involves working outdoors in all kinds of weather and in challenging locations.
Find out more about training
- Department of Conservation
- (04) 471 0726 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.doc.govt.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Job opportunities for rangers best in remote areas
Demand for rangers is expected to grow due to a government increase in conservation funding.
There are often vacancies for Department of Conservation (DOC) ranger jobs, but competition can be strong. Your chances of securing a job are best if you apply for ones based in remote areas.
According to the Census, 981 park rangers worked in New Zealand in 2018.
Experience doing contract or volunteer work useful
You can improve your chances of securing a ranger job by volunteering for DOC or for council or community projects. Volunteering can lead to short or long-term contract work. Contract and volunteer work in the field is usually only available in summer.
Studying online courses through DOC may also help your chances of getting a job.
- Department of Conservation website - how to become a DOC volunteer
- Department of Conservation website - information on training courses
Most rangers work for DOC
The Department of Conservation (DOC) is the main employer of rangers. They can also work for:
- regional and local councils
- conservation sanctuaries
- Fish and Game New Zealand.
- Boness, W, principal ranger, Greater Wellington Regional Council, careers.govt.nz interview, June 2018.
- Endres, B, conservation co-ordinator, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, careers.govt.nz interview, June 2018.
- Fuller, N, human resources senior adviser, Department of Conservation, careers.govt.nz interview, March 2018.
- Kelleher, R, biodiversity manager, Auckland Council, careers.govt.nz interview, July 2018.
- Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Rangers may move into team leader or management roles.
Rangers can specialise in several areas, including:
- building, carpentry, or plumbing (needed for building huts and other visitor facilities at national and regional parks)
- community relations and education
- biodiversity, which involves looking after plants and animals.
Last updated 15 June 2020