What type of work did I do?

So what type of work did you do while you were in New Zealand? The grand old question I was asked by everyone when I told them I spent the year there on a Working Holiday Visa. If you’re there on this visa, you have to be open-minded, and you’ll be able to find work. If you’re expecting to land in there with a degree in hand, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but they know you are a backpacker. And backpackers have a reputation of being unreliable sometimes. I’m not saying ALL backpackers are like that, but there’s the few that gives the reputation for the rest of us out there. For instances, working a few days and quitting with out letting the boss know or just working a few weeks. Turnover rate is high in fruit picking, and that’s where most backpackers work. Most of the time people work enough to travel, and then he or she is off to the next adventure until they need to work again. But if you keep an open mind then finding a job won’t be hard. Here’s my timeline of my work in New Zealand

November

I was staying in Hastings at the Rotten Apple where they help you find seasonal work. 1 week of apple thinning until I got fired….Thinning is removing the apples that won’t grow that big; like the ones under the branches, so the nutrition can go to the other apples to get bigger. I remember coming home my first day and my flat mates were waiting as I dramatically told them how my day went. And how I didn’t’ know how I could do this, and how there were a ton people always coming to tell me what to do, so I didn’t know who my real boss was. Finally after a few days, I “thought” I had the hang of it, but then comes my one of my 5 supervisors who told me that they didn’t think I would thin fast enough. He said I could finish my tree and he would drive me home. A very awkward moment…

So I told Rotten Apple and they said when something open up they would let me know. But one of my room mates had a contact information for an Indian contractor that was hourly.

*FYI fruit picking jobs are contracted which means it’s based on how much you do. It depends on each orchard how much you will get. My first orchard depended on the size of the tree, so it would range from $1 to $5 per tree. Basically you had to work fast to make some money. BUT you could be lucky enough where it is hourly.

December

After a week of not working, and realizing I was dialing the wrong number for the contractor. I finally got a hold of the Indian contractor. He was picking peaches, and the best part it was hourly. There were a few days of apple thinning, and of course I fell from my ladder one of those days. I was working  with 2 older Indian woman and 2 mid-thirties woman with some Indian men. I think they were all family and friends, so I felt like an odd person out. Mid-December Monsieur joined me because he didn’t enjoy his other contractors. We left at the end of the month because we were learning that we were getting gypped, and we were getting marked less hours than we actually worked. And there were other financial complications that gave us a headache to deal with.

In the peach orchard
They guys got to maneuver this cool machine
There was a flat tire one day, so we had to help fix it

January

Our other flat mate worked with a different contractor, and he said they needed people because some backpackers left. We all said sure, and the best part was that it was hourly. We worked with some cool guys from Vanuatu who wore jeans and long sleeves while working. I don’t know how they did that; I was dying in my shorts and shirts. So our whole house and neighbor worked there for a month. We saved enough  money to travel and we decided to buy a car together split 5 ways; that was interesting

During thinning, my arms would hurt. So my friend told me to put my arms in hot then cold water to help them

March to first week of May

1 day as a dish washer, and the next day became an apple picker. We were going to stay in Blenhiem to try a different job from fruit picking, but realized that working 20 hours a week would take a while to save any money. So we headed over to Motueka and became apple pickers with the two funniest Kiwis I’ve ever met. Ok, sometimes there humor was extreme, but there was never a dull moment at work. We also worked with some guys from Tonga. This job was on contract as well, and was $30 per bin filled.

Most days looked like this 🙂
Picking in the rain; not a fun day
One of the funniest Kiwis. He was our tractor driver, but he would also help me.

June – August

We stayed in Christchurch. *Warning for ladies, it’s very hard to get a job here. They want guys with cars more. But I found an on-call job at a Dairy production factory. We would bottle milk, juice, and ice cream. Through the work agency Trade Staff. They would text me the night before to let me know if I worked or not. I tried going to different cafes as well, but nothing was open. So on average I worked 3 times a week. I saved some, but not a lot.

So those were all my jobs while in New Zealand. I am not going to lie apple picking and thinning are hard, and has made me appreciate my fruit much more and the people who do it. It’s not an easy job. It’s very physically demanding; but it’s doable. When I tell people I did these types of jobs, I can tell in their eyes they think I am crazy. But I guess it’s one of those vinegars I am willing to through to achieve my happiness. To help motivate myself, I thought “I am doing job “X” in New Zealand” and the last two words didn’t make the job seem that horrible.

I think my work experience in Australia will be different because there cities seem more vibrant, so I think finding a job in a cafe or a temporary office job will be easier. Don’t let my experiences scare you, and you think O I don’t want to do fruit picking. This was my experience; yours is up to how you want to do it.  My friend from Germany found a job in field as a surveyor, and he’s now sponsored by them working full time. So this is another possibility; it’ your choice. But if you keep an open mind it will be much easier to find a job.I hope this encourages to look at the Working Holiday Visa more! Bon Voyage!

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