Kiwi picking is a hell of a job! It is hard! Physically. Especially for a girl.
As a backpacker I knew that working in New Zealand will not be easy. Of course I could of choose a different work field, for example working in a Hostel or café, but it would be too similar to my previous jobs (work with clients, indoors, dealing with multiple different situations etc.) and I wanted something different. Unless you have worked in agriculture back at home – this will be so much more different. I loved to be outdoors, seeing the daylight, fresh air and being with my own thoughts.
The down part is that it is a hard job. My fingers and hands hurt from kiwi picking, my arms sometimes felt so heavy because of the moving them up and down all day, shoulders were bruised with a bag straps and back hurt because of its heaviness. Sometimes you have to work with wet gloves, because the fruit is wet after the rain, sometimes your feet is wet too, if you don’t have proper footwear (I suggest rain boots!). The good thing is – you get used to it. No, the pain isn’t going away, at least not completely, but you getting used to the pain and being uncomfortable. Sounds terrible! I know. But I did it for 2 months. Two!
If you are scared of pain, can’t deal with being on foot at least 8 hours a day, and you don’t want to make yourself dirty – don’t do it! But remember sometimes physical discomfort is much more bearable than mental torture.
But if you want to be outside, see the sky, hear the birds, work in a team and probably make new friends and earn pretty okay money for your trips – than I suggest you give this a shot! A lot of depends of the team you get. If you don’t like the people, they are slow (that brings the money down for the whole team) and you don’t get along with the supervisors – don’t stay! The job is hard enough already! But most of the people are okay with staying longer because of the team, because of the people.
I have worked in two completely different teams in two different locations and it is even hard to compare. One was organized by Indian guys in Opotiki and other by local kiwis father and son in Te Puke.
Everything starting from supervisor approach and ending with rates were completely different. I didn’t know that there is even possible to work different in kiwi picking until I changed my location and team. I can’t tell which is better, because it depends what you are looking for, but I know what I would prefer.
So if anyone coming to New Zealand looking for this experience, or just want to earn some money by working hard – let me know, and I will give you the contacts (Opotiki, Te Puke or Kerikeri locations).
Working in a pack house is another way to work with kiwi fruits. I didn’t try it, but Aldis did. He worked in the night shifts as a stacker, moving cardboard boxes. Physically it was less hard, but mentally it was harder to be 8-11 hours in a “metal box”, in pack house noise from all those machines. Yes, it is much cleaner and isn’t that weather dependent as picking, and there are different type of jobs what you can be hired to do in a pack house too.
Getting job in a pack house is really easy. Just go to their office and apply for a job, fill the forms (sometimes it is possible online) and they will call you when any of the positions you choose is be available. Usually it is couple of days’ wait, so don’t be afraid to apply in more than one and then go for the one which calls first.
Free kiwi fruit is additional bonus while working in both of those places. Pack with so many vitamins and really ten times better than the ones you will get in the store back at home.
Anyway, any fruit picking will not be the easiest job, BUT I would never change this experience I had to any cleaner, easier job. If you are looking for easy - better just stay Home! :D