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Working Experiences in New Zealand

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Fresh out of college

I came to New Zealand with a plan. Fresh out of college, with an agriculture/viticulture degree, and a reputation for ‘always’ being prepared, I was determined not to let New Zealand catch me off guard. Hoping to acquire a seasonal harvest position at a good winery, I submitted 400 resumes across the whole of New Zealand, both North and South Islands. I scouted out every wine related website I could get my hands on. ( & are an awesome start!) Out of 400 resumes, about 20-25 responded. Although there were a few interested wineries, most were polite dismissals with urgencies to visit if I ever made it down their way. (I would like to note: every turn down I received was extremely kind and not at all clinical. Just a taste of NZ hospitality.) I was finally able to nail an offer from GisVin ltd. in Gisborne, New Zealand. Having no winery experience, I jumped at the chance. I needed the opportunity to prove myself in a winery and GisVin extended the hand. I saved the $4,000+ as recommended (required) by the NZ immigration website (, for US citizens. I made copies of all important documents, cards, etc. I purchased a round trip ticket, intending to return home in four months. I did everything a seasonal worker is ‘suppose’ to do.

Skipping forward 3 months: I’m currently in Waipukurau! An odd place to end up, no? After the Gisborne winery and working 12hr. night shifts, my frazzled mind needed some R & R. I felt unfulfilled, even though I had accomplished what I had set out to do. So what next? BAM. Franz Josef, that’s what. Trudging over to the ever reliable, I found a ‘Tourism Assistant’ position offered at the Franz Josef Glacier Country Retreat for full board. I e-mailed without hesitation. And I got it! I ended up spending one month at the beautiful retreat serving guests, cooking breakfast and dinner, performing housekeeping duties, baking cookies, baking cakes, …and more baking! (They are incredibly nice hosts and I suggest you give them some business if you are ever in the area. They deserve it. It is a lovely place to stay.) Embarrassingly, I gained a good 3-5kg at the very least and I’m still struggling to get my winery fit body back in shape. Feeling the itch to move onward once again, I travelled to Wellington in hopes of working for Fuel Coffee. I went for an interview last week and did not get the job. Another ‘what now?’ moment arose. Surfing the backpackerboard and gap year websites once again, I found a request for ‘house elf help’. I e-mailed pronto…and not more than 2 hours later I received a response.

AND…here I am…in Waipukurau…a very content house elf indeed. I’ve since secured seasonal viticulture work in Warkworth and I’m really psyched to start in June. Three months of seasonal viticulture work will allow me to extend my visa by 3 months, for a whopping 15 month adventure in New Zealand.

I came to New Zealand with my resume in mind. Finances were one my greatest concerns, as well as how the heck I was going to navigate around a country I had never visited. Although my future in viticulture and viniculture is still of importance, it doesn’t overwhelm me like it once it. Money is no longer a fear, as I have realized there are always kind people willing to take you on in exchange for accommodation. My advice: don’t worry, don’t over-plan, talk to people, eat good food, and drink good wine. Have a goal in mind, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work out. Don’t be surprised if something else comes along. Don’t be surprised if you get everything you never knew you wanted.

I would love to tell you more, but it is impossible to type all my thoughts out in one night. Pop over to http:/// for the full spiel on my adventure. Thanks for reading and I wish you luck with finding a purpose for yourself. New Zealand is the place to do it!

Submitted by: Katie Woolsey
Date submitted: 23/07/2011 9:17:32 PM

Apple grading & stacking Fri Jun 8

Grape picking Fri Jun 8

Blueberry picking Fri Jun 8

Hop work in Motueka Tue May 16

Working as an apple packer in Motueka Mon May 9

Working for free accommodation in Wellington Thu Mar 24

From working holiday visa to a resident Thu Mar 24

From the big city to the field of kiwi fruit Thu Mar 24

Working with Kiwi fruit Thu Mar 24

The Christmas rush Mon Feb 29

Packing kiwifruit in Motueka Mon Feb 29

Asparagus picking Mon Feb 29

put on your work clothes, roll up your sleeves and get out there Tue May 27


The Gorilla Hut Sun May 26

Working in sales in NZ Mon May 13

Life as an apple picker Mon May 13

Marahau Sun May 5

hanging nets at isabel vinyard Mon Mar 25

Farm stay Tue Feb 5

Berry-Picking and Ice-Cream Making Tue Dec 18

Vineyard Work in Blenheim Sun Nov 25

Working As A "Milkman" Sat Aug 4

Being an au-pair Thu Aug 2

Grape harvesting in Central Otago Thu Aug 2

Whenever Wed Jun 6

Picking up the oil in Tauranga Mon May 21

Onion grading Sat May 12

Omarama, Place of Light Tue Apr 3

Napier or the job war Sun Apr 1

Some helpful tips Wed Feb 29

Fruit picking in Central Otago Mon Feb 27

Some useful tips Thu Feb 16

Fruit picking in Motueka Wed Jan 18

Where Do We Go From Here Tue Dec 20

Picked it, Packed it, Buggered Off! Tue Dec 20

Seasonal jobs COULD change your very life as you know it Tue Dec 20

I work to live, I don’t live to work Mon Dec 19

I only had $100 to my name Sun Nov 20

Odd Jobs In Central Otago Sun Nov 20

Peach thinning working experience Sun Nov 20

The young vines were frosted over Sun Nov 20

The work found me Sun Nov 20

Working for Watties Factory Mon Oct 24

Working New Zealand from a different perspective Mon Oct 24

I had always been dreaming about coming to New Zealand Mon Oct 24

My first job in vineyards was stripping Mon Oct 24

My happiness was indescribable Tue Oct 18

Working in a Packhouse in Auckland Tue Oct 18

Working on a vineyard in Blenheim Tue Oct 18

Cycling in New Zealand not friendly Tue Oct 18

Fruit Picking Tips for New Zealand Mon Aug 22

Whale and Dolphin Watching Sat Aug 13

Cherry Picking in Central Otago Sat Aug 13

16 Argentinian people living there, it was awesome! Tue Jul 26

No one got payslips, really crazy Sat Jul 23

picked apples at first Sat Jul 23

In 18 months I have worked with kiwi fruits, apples, two epic ski seasons and a travelling carnival Sat Jul 23

cash-in-hand odd jobs Sat Jul 23

A rugby team we’ve beaten twice at the Rugby World Cup? Let’s go teasing them! Sat Jul 23

Talking to strangers about charity Sat Jul 23

Fresh out of college Sat Jul 23

Working trees for $350 per week Sat Jul 23

German Windsurf Instructor in New Zealand Sun Jul 17

Vineyard work in South Island New Zealand Sun Jul 17

We had idea, get visa, sell everything and just go to New Zealand Sun Jul 17


Wilding Pines Sun Jul 17

boss was very nice and friendly Sun May 8

Vintage in Central Otago - Working in the Wine Industry Sun May 8

Mr Apple packhouse experience Mon May 2

North Island Notes Wed Apr 20

Fruitpicking in Napier Wed Apr 20

blueberry harvest season Thu Apr 7

bbq on the beach and if you lucky see some Dolphis too Thu Apr 7

Mate! You are on fire!! Sun Mar 20

The real vineyard work lowdown Fri Mar 11

I had pretty much run out of cash Wed Mar 9

The Land of New Zealand Mon Feb 28

Work in backpackers in exchange for accommodation Sat Feb 26

heard cattle on motorbikes Fri Feb 18

Traditional Maori hangi Thu Feb 17

Fortune Fruit and spitting cherry pits competitions Tue Feb 15

When I got to Whangamata... Sat Feb 12

I could romanticize it… Tue Dec 7

I thought it sounded interesting Tue Dec 7

My New Zealand adventure :) Wed Nov 3

Well I am from Mexico... Mon Oct 25

~New Zealand has no bandits and the relaxed lifestyle is second to none~ Fri May 14

New Zealand's got cheap banks!! Mon Apr 26

Tips from Latvia...yes not Russia ;) Tue Mar 16

First Job Thinning Apples... Mon Mar 1

Damn recession! Wed Feb 10

Loving New Zealand.. Mon Feb 8

From aircrafts to vineyard work in New Zealand.. Mon Feb 8

A Czech in New Zealand.. Fri Feb 5

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