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Vineyard work in South Island New Zealand
My name is Diego and I am from Spain. I was living in Ireland with my girlfriend Kairika, from Estonia, when we decided to apply for a Working Holiday Visa for New Zealand. We had saved some money and our plan was to travel around New Zealand and work in seasonal jobs in our route to keep travelling and doing activities.
We arrived in Christchurch in January 2011, and after a few days in the city we bought a beautiful camper-van to start our adventure in the other side of the world. It did not take long time to realise that we were in the perfect place to live on the road. New Zealand is an amazing country if you like outdoors life, and we certainly do. There are stunning spots everywhere, breathtaking views and a modern infrastructure of holiday parks, conservation campsites, public toilets and parks, i-sites with free tourism information, etc. An authentic paradise for nature lovers.
After one month travelling in South Island we decided it was time for us to find a seasonal job, stay for a few weeks in some place and live a totally different experience. We found out there was an office in Alexandra (Central Otago) called Seasonal Solutions who help backpackers or anyone willing to work in horticultural and viticultural industry in the area, so we went there and registered ourselves as job seekers. They even helped us with immigration advise and to get our IRD number.
After a few days we got a text message in my cell phone requesting confirmation to start working in a vineyard in Cromwell (Central Otago) next day. We confirmed our interest and next day early in the morning we went to the meeting point in Cromwell where we met our manager and workmates and we all went to the vineyard where we would be working for the following five weeks. There were people from everywhere: Germany, United States, France, Chile, Vanuatu, Malaysia, etc. and everybody was really friendly and nice, so it was a very good international work atmosphere full of jokes, laughs and, yes, some hard work under the sun and good money too. Our task consisted basically on thinning the vines. Harvest was coming soon and we had to make sure that the wine produced was going to meet certain quality standards, so armed with gloves and scissors we were dropping the bunches of grapes not matured and leaving those healthier following some instructions from our managers. It was easy, mechanic, and the good atmosphere at work allowed all of us to enjoy our days in the vineyard.
When all the vines were almost ready for the harvest our job was different. This time we had to cover all the vines with nets for the birds not to eat the juicy and sweet grapes. I have to admit that I enjoyed more this task. In pairs, each one of us in each side of the vine row was clipping the net wrapping completely the bush with it. It was easy too, and our manager used to play good rock music in his powerful car stereo so we could listen to it while working, which helped a lot. I even improved my dancing skills!
We used to meet after work to have some beers together in Cromwell, and I have to say that I will not forget either the taste of the cold beer relaxed in good company after a long work shift under the sun. It was a great time that now we remember with a smile in our face.
Five weeks later we had to say goodbye to everyone as we were not staying for the harvest. We had enough money to go back to the road and continue exploring the beautiful country, its mountains, lakes, beaches and culture. We crossed then by ferry to the North Island looking forward to getting new adventures.
The next time we decided to work we went directly to Bay of Plenty region, which is well known for its kiwifruit production. We arrived in Te Puke, close to Tauranga, and we went directly to the i-site to ask for information about seasonal job opportunities in the area. The woman in the office nicely gave us a page with a list of kiwifruit packing houses and fruit picking companies and she informed us that in one of them they needed staff immediately for sure. We took the van and drove directly to the mentioned packing house, where they asked us if we could start immediately.
It was surprisingly fast, in 30 minutes we had signed the contract and we had our aprons on while attending to the induction to learn how to grade kiwifruits. It was a huge packing house, again with people from everywhere working in different departments. There were packers in charge of packing the fruits. There were warehouse staff in charge of transporting the pales. There were also people controlling machinery, testing the quality of the fruit and managers to assure the proper running of everything. And finally, there were fruit graders with me and my girlfriend among them. Basically we were two or three of us in each position, seeing thousands of kiwis rolling in front of our eyes, and we had to decide, according to some standards, which one belonged to class A, which one to class B, and which ones were not fit for consumption. It was an easy job and the managers were really nice with all of us. We even had free cookies, coffee and tea in our breaks, and a nice terrace to sit down under the morning sun to rest. After almost 4 weeks, the kiwi season was over, and the company thanked all of us with an amazing lunch that nobody expected. It was certainly a company where I would not doubt to come back next year or to recommend.
With the good memories and our pockets filled again we were back on the road. And this has not finished yet. What will it be next?
Submitted by: Diego Date submitted: 17/07/2011 2:00:05 a.m.