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Fruit Picking Tips for New Zealand
When I first came to NZ I heard that Hawkes Bay is the fruit bowl of NZ and it wasn’t a myth. I arrived in The Rotten Apple Backpackers at the end of September and already the first week in October I started working….and I didn`t stop for the next 8 months.
Jason, our wicked hostel owner, found me a contractor and my contractor found me all different kind of jobs, starting with sorting the pumpkins, planting tomatoes, weeding on top of Te Mata Peak, working in the vineyards, picking and packing different fruit and when it was raining I worked in a winery. When you work under the Contractor, you usually get paid the minimum $13 + 8% holiday pay and usually he makes sure that you get at least 40 hours per week.
Stonefruit- and appletree thinning starts in November and it goes til Christmas.The work is very easy and usually paid buy contract. Some contracts are very good and the fastest can earn $180-$200 per day (before tax). At the same time, some contracts are insanely low, so you can work 8-9 hours and you earn maybe only $30. The good thing about NZ is that the Contract between you and the Employer says that you have to earn at least minimum pay. So if you don`t reach the minimum pay buy working with the contract rate, they still have to pay you the minimum. It sounds good and you may think that well, I can just be lazy every day then…but no, usually they let you try 2 days, and if you don`t get your speed up, they recommend you to find another job.
Vineyards have work all year round. It all starts with pruning (May til September), then shoot thinning (end of October), then bud rubbing (start of November), wire lifting (end of November), leaf plucking (in February), fruit thinning (end of February), then netting and harvesting (in April, May). Vineyard work is usually paid contract. Physically the hardest is pud rubbing, even the most fit boys got sore knees and back and not many people earned more than minimum with that job. Wire lifting and harvesting are not hard and if you are fast you can easily earn more than $150 per day.
Apple picking starts in March and that’s the best job to make good money. You have to be relatively fit (full bag weighs 18kg and you have to claim ladder) and motivated but the work is not hard. Picking-bags are comfortable and don’t hurt your back at all. You have to fill up your bag carefully and not bruise the apples. One bin takes 36 of your bags and usually they pay again contract rate which is around $30-32 per bin (before tax). At the beginning of the season it`s easy to get 4-5 bins with 8 hours. If you work hard you get 6-7 bins. I use to work with boys from Bali and they picked every single day through the season 10-12 bins with 8 hours. So that shows it`s possible…at the same time there were backpackers who struggled to get 2 bins full. I was happy with my 6. And once there has been the first pick, and the second pick..there are not many apples left…and then usually the bin rate goes up a bit…about $40-45 per bin. But then it`s hard to pick more than 2.
It`s also good to get a job in a pack house, cause then the rain doesn’t bother you too much. Most orchards don`t let you work with the rain, but if there is a lot of fruit waiting in the cool-room, you can still go and pack it. Usually you work 9-10 hours per day, 6-7 days per week. And if you go and find the job yourself you most likely get paid more than a minimum (for example I got $14+8%). If you are in Hastings, go have a look in Omahu road, there are heaps of packhouses (also MrApple, Appollo etc.).
So my point is that it`s easy to find a job if you like to work J And if you wanna have some crazy good times, go to The Rotten Apple Backpackers! Good people! Good place!
Work Hard, PLAY HARDER!
Submitted by: Marina Date submitted: 22/08/2011 5:07:20 a.m.