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Picked it, Packed it, Buggered Off!

"Haere Mai, passive reader. I arrived in NZ last March and spent a couple of months in Auckland. During what is amusingly called ‘Winter’ in the Southern hemisphere (for the obvious yet still pleasantly foreign concept of it running from June to August), I began to travel around the North Island. Myself and my delightfully reckless new friend Pierre (yes, French) set off to the Bay of Plenty (of recent oil spill fame) to seek out opportunities in the traditional New Zealand seasonal vocation of Kiwi-picking. Te Puke, the kiwi fruit capital of the world, was where we found ourselves soon after. Checking in to the ‘Hairy Berry’ hostel it was a wonderful surprise to find that a drink fuelled, metal loving, Norse-cultured energy vibrated its walls. We were both soon revelling in late night sessions of testosterone fuelled excessive drinking, discussions on historical warfare and random acts of destruction to the pleasantly reminiscent thrashing of Slayer and the like.


A great deal of seasonal agriculture work can be found through the local hostels and motor parks within the respective area. After talking with a contact at the Hairy Berry we soon found ourselves packing Kiwi’s by the thousand in an enormous warehouse at Satara, one of several packhouse chains in the area; a line of work that did not pay particularly well but made up for it in the available hours (sometimes 60+). Its a monotonous environment, the air filled with kiwi fibres and the noise of conveyor machinery, but like many things its something you can get used to. Soon after this we tried our hand at the much more physically demanding (but equally more soul rewarding) actual picking of the Kiwis. We both moved into a caravan park on the other side of town for a much cheaper rent whose minor inconveniences could be resolved easily by a bit of forward planning ahead of the 20yard walk to the kitchen and the $5 purchase of a 2nd hand electric heater. Contracted to be paid by the value of a crate divided by how many people were picking to fill them, this inspired a motivation and impetus to pick the Kiwi’s, hanging between 5 and 7 feet off the ground, at a ferocious rate.  Myself I achieved a truly joyful efficiency in grip-to-drop rate that must have amounted to around 3-4 pieces of fruit in the chest-mounted bag per second, filling the bag in about 4-5 minutes. At about $14 per crate, an average of 8 people per team and about 30-40 bags filling a crate... well, you do the maths.


The work was exhausting and on occasion annoyingly infrequent when the rain clouds appeared. But this was an authentically, and literally ‘Kiwi’ experience that I would never change. Pierre and I shared solidarity with each other and all others we met of a kind I believe can only be felt by those from lands far away, joined together and engaged in a sporadic physical labour on foreign shores. But much more than this, because of the PSA infection, a congenital disease that has now spread across almost the entire Kiwi industry in New Zealand, this seasonal work that has kept working-travellers flowing through this region for decades, may well entirely come to an end within the next four or five years according to many growers that we spoke to. For this reason alone, I feel privileged to have been a part of it".

Submitted by: Rob Cummins
Date submitted: 20/12/2011 12:55:44 AM

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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