Kiwifruit Picking in NZ
Kiwi's are one of New Zealand’s biggest exports, with more than $1.9 billion of them exported each year. This is great news for the New Zealand economy, but its a problem for growers, because Kiwi’s are very labour intensive to harvest. This short term requirement for labour represents a great opportunity for backpackers to earn a little extra cash to pay for their travels.
So if you want to explore New Zealand, but don’t quite have the budget to pull it off. Kiwi fruit picking could be the answer. During fruit picking season jobs are easy to come by and some picking jobs also come with food and accommodation.
So in this guide, we’re going to look at how the fruit picking industry works. We’ll show you where to find the best jobs, what time of year to come, what you can expect to earn and what documents you’ll need to work legally in the country.
When is Kiwifruit picking season
The Kiwi picking season lasts for three months from late March to early June. You will find fruit picking jobs advertised from mid-October through to March the following year. The best-paying jobs with transport and accommodation go early so make sure you start looking in good time.
Where to pick
Kiwifruits are fairly hardy and can be grown almost anywhere in New Zealand. But you will find the greatest concentration of orchids in the Bay of Plenty region, especially near the town of Te Puke (pronounced teh-pook-ee), 28 kilometres southeast of Tauranga. This small town is located on the northeastern tip of the North Island, which is an area of significant conservation interest.
While beautiful, Te Puke may be a little off the beaten track for some travellers. For those seeking work closer to civilization, smaller concentrations of orchards can be found in the Auckland, Gisbourne, Northland and Nelson regions. However, travellers may find it difficult to obtain a work permit in these regions, especially Auckland.
How much can you make picking Kiwifruit
There are two types of Kiwi fruit, gold and green. Green is the most popular fruit and the easiest to pick. Green kiwi fruit pickers are usually paid by the bin, with bin rates varying between NZ$18-$26. Most pickers are paired and should be able to fill two bins per hour. This works out at an hourly rate of NZ$18-$26 per hour. During your first few days, however, you will earn less because it takes a little time to get up to speed.
Gold kiwis are more fragile and require greater care when picking. For this reason, gold kiwi fruit pickers are usually paid by the hour. Experienced pickers can expect to earn around NZ$18 per hour. So there isn’t much difference between the two rates. Beginners will find it easier to find green picking jobs, however.
Some employers may also provide accommodation and transport with the job. These are often the most sought after jobs and go quickly, so you will need to get in early. Full season pickers may also receive a bonus at the end of the season which could amount to as much as NZ$2 per bin.
Kiwi fruit picking is a good way to earn a little extra cash to pay for your holiday. While its hard work, it’s also great fun and you will most likely meet other like-minded travellers while you are there. Many people choose to go on exploring together once the picking season is over.