Work and Travel in Tokelau

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Tokelau is a dependent territory of New Zealand. If you’ve never heard of travel in Tokelau before, you’re most certainly not the only one. Most people aren’t aware of this territory’s existence. So if you’re looking to go somewhere different, there’s no better place.

With so little information on the volunteering opportunities in Tokelau, it can seem impossible to find any projects there. But there are opportunities available, and our travel guide to Tokelau  is going to show you everything you need to know about making a start here.

1. Teach English in Tokelau

The primary language of Tokelau is the Tokelauan language. Despite being a dependent territory of an English-speaking country, you won’t find a large spread of English here. This is just one of the few reasons why you won’t find too many travellers who decide to work and travel in Tokelau.

If you want to work in Tokelau, one of the best projects you can choose is an English teaching project. Generally, you need a TEFL qualification, or the equivalent of a TEFL. But many private organisations will accept you as long as you happen to be a native English speaker.

Work in any of the administration centres on the atolls for the widest range of opportunities.

2. Improve the Infrastructure in Tokelau

Tokelau is one of the poorest areas in the region. If you want to travel in Tokelau you need to be prepared to deal with extremely basic conditions. There’s little investment in the infrastructure of the atolls, so getting around isn’t always easy.

That’s why private organisations are trying to improve the situation. If you’re able to work hard, infrastructure building could be for you. These are outdoors jobs that involve manual labour, so you should have a good fitness level before embarking on these volunteer opportunities in Tokelau.

3. Join a Construction Project in Tokelau

The majority of the locals live in minimally furnished accommodation. Power is provided by generator and the water supply is controlled by a series of rainwater tanks. Basic resources are not widely available here, especially during periods of extreme weather.

Many atolls are using older equipment that constantly breaks down. Volunteers can replace much of this old equipment and help train locals on how to use more advanced technology.

They also have the option of helping to decorate, repair, and rebuild existing structures. It’s not that the locals don’t have the manpower, it’s that they don’t have the knowledge or the resources to make these projects happen by themselves.


Do you want to work and travel in Tokelau? Then be prepared to deal with one of the oddest visa policies in the world. Despite being a dependent territory of New Zealand, you need to visit Samoa to get the permit to visit.

To travel in Tokelau you need to take a boat from Samoa. There are no flights to Tokelau and you can’t get there from New Zealand itself.

So you need to make sure you have a visa to enter Samoa first. Read our work and travel page for Samoa before proceeding.

All nationalities need to visit Apia in Samoa. There you’ll attend the Tokelau Apia Liaison Office to fill out the necessary paperwork. You should do this at least two weeks before your intended date of travel.



Tokelau enjoys a hot, humid, and rainy climate throughout the year. It’s not easy to work and travel in Tokelau for this reason. You should be used to dealing with this type of weather before you decide to travel to the territory.

The spring season is the beginning of the calmer period of the year. Most travel guides recommend you travel in Tokelau throughout the period of April to October.

Since the majority of projects take place outdoors, spring is an ideal time to visit. Consider construction and infrastructure projects during the spring. You also may want to consider environmental conservation projects. There’s also the option of clean-up projects, which take place along the coastlines of each atoll.


The summer season is much the same as the spring season. Expect a hot and humid climate with less rainfall than other seasons.

Refer to the ‘Spring’ section for an idea of the different categories of project you can involve yourself in at this time of year.


The autumn season is the beginning of the shoulder season. Expect more rainfall and less predictable weather at this time of year. Yes, the projects available in the previous sections are still available in autumn but expect far more disruption.

We recommend opting for more educational projects, which are less prone to disruption. Teaching English is a popular choice. You may also want to consider aiding community development, where you’ll be working primarily in the most deprived communities in Tokelau.

You may also want to consider working to push women’s rights and in promoting skills for the future, so younger people have better job prospects.


The winter season is not an ideal time to work in Tokelau. This is the cyclone season and the seas around the atolls can be rough. It’s not out of the ordinary to see serious injury and death hit the atolls when Tokelau takes a direct hit from a cyclone.

It’s still possible to travel in Tokelau, but you should stick to the volunteering projects mentioned in the ‘Autumn’ section.


Tokelau is a country that receives few tourists. The majority of foreigners who work and travel in Tokelau are volunteers working with major international organizations.

This is a territory that has little contact with its parent country, as well as the outside world as a whole. You must adapt to the basic conditions here and be prepared to deal with a far more conservative culture. If you can adapt, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the traditional culture that still dominates society here.

Do you have what it takes to pick up volunteering opportunities in Tokelau?

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