Working in HelpX the first month of our arrival in New Zealand was a great idea. Yet, three days before we left Bali , we had not considered this option at all. It took a good alignment of the stars for us to land in Christchurch in this beautiful house and family.
Making the HelpX while being Digital Nomad is a great option for working, traveling, and dating, all at a lower cost.
HelpX, what is it?
HelpX is a platform that connects local families offering one-off missions with travelers. It is an exchange of good processes:
- Travelers help the family with daily tasks x hours a week.
- In exchange, you are housed free of charge and sometimes fed and laundered.
The format depends on the host who welcomes you. The platform accessible for a ridiculous price of $ 33 for 3 years. It is not particularly ergonomic but the ads are up to date, the families are very reactivent and the collaborative spirit is present.
Indeed, behind the proposed missions are hidden values of sharing, multicultural exchange, open-mindedness and discovery of the other. By reading the opinions of previous travelers, you will quickly have an idea of the atmosphere on site.
The missions proposed in HelpX are varied and sometimes very original:
- Working on the farm : cows and sheep are not lacking in New Zealand!
- Maintain a garden and do DIY work
- To take care of an inn : to make the beds, the cleaning and the breakfasts of an Air BnB for example
- Daughter to father : the best known job of travelers (but not the most relaxing :-)) to take care of the children of a local family
Another site also offers this type of mission in WWOOFing but it is more oriented “nature”. This platform offers jobs in organic farms mainly.
A HelpX mission is completely compatible with a Working Holiday Permit, the famous PVT. However, not everyone will ask you so if you have a simple Holidays permit, it is possible to find missions.
Digital Nomad & HelpX: the perfect duo!
Combining Helpx and freelance was simply the perfect plan and the working conditions were ideal:
2.5 days HelpX / 2 days Freelance / 2.5 days Tourism
OUR HELPX / FREELANCE / TRAVELERS PROGRAM
On our side, the steps were done extremely quickly. You’re gonna understand why.
>> 3 days before we arrived in New Zealand, our plans were pretty vague.
Indeed, we both had a PVT taken for a long time, but without really knowing what we were going to do. Above all, we were going to land in Christchurch as we prepared to arrive in Wellington. We did not even have our accommodation for the first night …
>> 2 days before our arrival in New Zealand, a little surprise came to complicate things a little …
We realized that Nicolas’ work visa has expired (the Visas are valid for one year after being issued, it should have arrived on the 11/01/2019 and our flights were planned for the 15/01/2019). We are really annoyed …
It is then that we start looking for housing and there we discover a sacred shift in standard of living (no wonder you will tell us when arriving from Bali!). The least hostel in dormitory costs between 30 and 50 euros and the hotels are between 60 and 120 euros …
Quickly, HelpX presented itself as a solution.
Not too starters at first, we had the (erroneous) image of being lost in the fields, cut off from the world and speaking with Jack, the toothless owner of 70 years. I admit that at the start (and after 4 months around the world), we had more desire to meet New Zealanders, to see their way of life and socialize us.
Big prejudices! On the HelpX platform, we’ve seen more exciting deals than ever before, and we quickly took to the game by reading these proposals:
- Working in a vineyard on the Malborough side
- Take care of animals like Alpacas
- Renovate an old mansion that suffered the 2011 earthquake with 6 other people.
It is the latter that seduced us. Its proximity to the city center, the quality of housing and format 17.5h per week without meals suited us perfectly. This allowed us to have our housing paid for and to have enough time to continue our freelance activities. We then contacted Leeanne.
24 hours later, we found both our home for a month, a part-time job and especially without knowing it … a new family!
Our experience at the Château
Arrived January 15, we had our room at the castle 4 days later. After reading complimentary reviews on Facebook, we were eager to discover The Castle Leeanne, the owner, absolutely wanted to welcome us but we arrived during her yoga class. So it was Dale her 90-foot-tall husband with a warm smile who greeted us. Just arrived, the feeling is directly passed. We had before us a sumptuous Georgian half-timbered mansion as a new home. Huge open and collaborative kitchen, cocooning lounge, swimming pool and flower garden, all equipment was present. Dale showed us our room: the Sun room! The panoramic view of the Southern Alps at sunset and the small private balcony have finished filling us!
In this large shared house lives the owner couple, an English couple and a sparkling German-Thai couple. We then join 4 other HelpX: two Germans having obtained the residence permit and two Chilean friends traveling.
After a day off, we started the renovation work. Three years ago, the house suffered enormous damage until it fell several inches. So we arrive after about thirty HelpX groups to continue this nice work. Masks and glasses on the head, here are some examples of the tasks we have done:
- Peeling off wallpaper
- Cleaning the common areas
- To sand, to sand, to sand and I sand (it goes forgiveness) !!!
Finally, we realize that leaving our Mac from time to time for manual work, it empties our heads and it makes us feel good :). The atmosphere is warm and we work in music to the rhythm of vintage sounds made in NZ ^^
... and SEO audit!
Seeing that we were as good at digital as sanding ^^, our hosts offered to work on their activity. Delighted to have gained their confidence and to be able to give them a boost, we changed our handyman’s hat for that of micro consulting firm and development studio.
We realized in 5 days:
- 2 Complete SEO Audits (technical / design / content) with search positioning keywords relevant keywords.
- SEO optimization of the Château website https://thecastlenz.com and the launch of his Instagram
- The complete redesign of the KA TAEA E KOE website (design / UX / dev), Leeanne’s Maori language trainer activity. https://kataeaekoe.co.nz
A human adventure
Finally, the HelpX and especially our experience at the castle was an unforgettable human adventure. We had some magical hosts and roommates:
- All the time listening to help us progress in English
- Always share with us their best moments of travel and give us good tips for our road trip
- Unforgettable moments spent together in the great shared kitchen (vegans, vegetarians and predators)
- Always motivated for a Lalaland evening, a pancake meal or a snack improvised cookies.
Finally, we even shared a hamburger evening organized by Leeanne and Dale for our departure. We do not exaggerate by saying that we feel like home and family. That’s what made the departure of the cocoon really difficult. Leeanne and Dale took care of us and told us a lot about their city, their history and Maori culture.
We recommend this experience and this pace of work to all digital nomads on the move in New Zealand or elsewhere!
Ps: Thank you Leeanne & Dale, Angela & Yann, Pui & Dan, Sam & Adam, Nico & Sandra for your kindness and those moments spent by your side at the Castle.