Ranger 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.

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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.

Physical Requirements

Rangers need to have excellent fitness and health as the job involves working outdoors in all kinds of weather and in challenging locations.

Useful Experience

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.

Personal Qualities

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.


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.

Rangers can earn around $47K-$60K per year.

Pay for rangers varies depending on experience, qualifications and the type of work they do.

  • Entry-level park or maintenance rangers in local or regional government parks usually earn $47,000 to $50,000 a year.
  • Park or maintenance rangers with three or more years' experience usually earn $55,000 to $65,000.
  • Entry-level Department of Conservation (DOC) rangers usually earn $47,000 to $60,000.
  • Experienced DOC rangers usually earn $53,000 to $69,000.
  • Senior DOC rangers or supervisors with more responsibilities can earn from $72,000 to $93,000.

Sources: Department of Conservation website, 2022; and careers.govt.nz research, 2022.

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.

Years Of Training

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.