The Handpicked Crew is here to help… 

The main growing areas are Hawke’s Bay and Central Otago, with some production remaining in Marlborough, north of Auckland and Canterbury.

There is a variety of work on orchards and packhouses throughout the year but the peak of the New Zealand summerfruit season (harvest) runs from November to March with the peak export harvest being December to February. 

Peak for Central Otago wine is March and April, apples harvest runs from late February to June.

There is a variety of work on orchards and packhouses throughout the year for all ages and skill levels. Many roles do not require experience as training is provided, however some roles require more fitness and strength than others.

Watch as Jacob Coombridge explains more on the skills you will need.

Ideally pickers should:

  • Enjoy working in the outdoors (in all weather conditions)
  • Be able to climb and manoeuvre a ladder
  • Be physically fit, able to carry buckets of fruit.
  • Have no previous or current injuries that may hinder picking (mainly knees, backs, and necks).
  • Have good eyesight – colour-blindness can be an issue when picking fruit to background colour.
  • Have a good work ethic as this will reflect how much you can earn!

Ideally to work in a packhouse you should:

  • Be able to be on your feet all day, particularly on concrete floors.
  • Be able to continue and focus on the task at hand.
  • Ideally not get motion sickness.
  • Be comfortable with repetitive factory work at pace.

The New Zealand Seasonal Work Scheme is available through Work and Income NZ.  

You can get help with costs like travel, clothing or temporarily moving home, when you're starting seasonal horticulture or viticulture work.

Before you start a seasonal job, talk with Work and Income NZ staff to see if you're eligible. You don't have to be on a benefit to qualify for the scheme.

Please note: There must be a risk that you could be unemployed for a long time. For example, if you're a student and have a short gap between study, you are not likely to qualify for the scheme.

For more information on the criteria and how to apply click here or call 0800 779 009

Yes and your employment contract should include the following:

  • the names of the employer and employee
  • a description of the work to be performed
  • an indication of the place of work
  • the hours of work or an indication of the hours of work (the agreement must set the maximum number of ordinary weekly hours)
  • the wage or salary payable
  • any other matters agreed on, such as trials or probationary agreements
  • the nature of the employment – whether it is fixed-term, seasonal or permanent.

Hours and rosters will vary according to employer, their crops and crop timings for example as a full time employee you can expect:

  • An employee will work between 4 and 7 days per week and not more than 60 hours per week, unless by prior agreement.
  • The hourly rate for any additional hours should be by prior agreement.
  • The agreed work roster will incorporate regular days off dependent on work schedule and will be with the prior agreement of the employee.

Note this may differ for part time and/or casual employees.

You should also expect:

  • Mutual respect and care should be extended to all team members.

  • Diversity is understood and respected (including cultural, gender and religious differences) and no one shall be subject to any discrimination or harassment in employment based on gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, nationality, political opinion, social group or ethnic origin.

Watch Jacob Coombridge provide more information.

When Public holidays fall on a day you would normally work (employers cannot dictate that these are non-working days if they fall during the period covered by the employment agreement) you will be entitled to a paid day off, no matter how long you’ve been working. If you agree to work on a public holiday, employers must:

  • pay you at least time and a half
  • give you another paid day off later (a day in lieu)

Are you registered with Kiwisaver?

If yes, the employer is obliged to make KiwiSaver deductions and pay employer contributions on your behalf. A KiwiSaver information pack and deduction form should be included in employment packs for all New Zealanders.

For those not already registered and employed as casual agricultural workers, on a day-to-day basis for no more than three months you aren’t enrolled automatically, but can opt in. You can either join through the employer or by contracting directly with a KiwiSaver scheme provider.

The automatic enrolment rules apply to casual agricultural workers if your employment is extended beyond three months. You must then be given a KiwiSaver information pack and start member and employer contributions from your next pay. The normal opt-out rules apply.

It is important that if you are not currently registered with KiwiSaver you understand that once you opt in, you do not have the option to opt out at a later date. For more information click here.

If you have any other questions please email our Handpicked Crew team