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Cherry Picking in Central Otago
1. Jones/Suncrest Orchard, Cromwell. Before working at Suncrest, I had always lamented the fact that with the majority of jobs, we are paid for the amount of time we spend at work, rather than for how much work we do. Being paid for mucking around at your workplace hardly makes you motivated to work hard. Being paid for how much work you do, however, is fantastic, especially at Suncrest, where the rates of pay were always very fair. I began the season thinning stonefruit, which is mind-numbing work, but which pays will if you can motivate yourself to move fast. After a couple of weeks, the cherry season began and suddenly we were all rolling in cash. You get paid per bucket at Suncrest, and while the bucket rice, at around $5, is not as much as some other orchards, Suncrest workers generally come away with more money, due to the fact that the managers seem to be conscientious with regard to providing work every day, unlike other orchards I have worked at, where we have been required to be on hold, earning no money, for days at a time. Also, the accommodation available at the orchard is much cheaper than a lot of other orchards, at only around $40 per week. Sure, the bosses at Suncrest can sometimes come across as, well, bossy, but youll soon find that if you dont mess them around, things will run very smoothly for you. I highly recommend cherry-picking in New Zealand, particularly at Suncrest Orchard.
2. Fortune Fruit, Cromwell Last summer (2010-11) I was late in applying for cherry-picking jobs and, after much hunting around, received an offer of employment driving a tractor at Fortune Fruit, in Cromwell. This job was to show me the incredible pay disparity between people doing different jobs on the same orchard. Most orchards in New Zealand operate a "colour-picking" system where there is work almost every day and pickers pick only the ripe fruit. This means that there is work every day for both pickers and other workers, such as the drivers who transport the cherries from the fields to the pack-house. If I had been driving on a colour-picking orchard, I would probably have recieved around $800 per week. At Fortune Fruit, however, the picking system is what is known as "strip-picking." This is a method where pickers wait around for a variety of cherries to ripen and then pick a huge amount in one day. This method is great for pickers, who can make up to $450 in a day, and sometimes around $1500 in a week. If, however, you are like me, and a working on hourly wages, you will make extremely little money. Where pickers were making $1500 per week, I was lucky to receive $400. It was incredibly frustrating sitting on a tractor watching people making loads of money doing a job I was perfectly capable of, while earning a pittence myself. After two weeks, I had had enough and quit, forfeiting a days pay. I went apricot picking on another orchard and was soon making three times what I was making driving the tractor, and enjoying the work much more.
Submitted by: Max Olsen Date submitted: 13/08/2011 6:50:50 a.m.