Careers in Fruit Growing

Here in Hawke’s Bay exciting careers in horticulture are right on our doorstep.  The Industry offers a diverse range of employment pathways from working in fruit production management, post harvest, human resources, exporting, marketing, science, specialist IT services and much more.  To check out some of these exciting opportunities click the picture below




Seasonal Work opportunities abound. Just take a look and see what makes fruit picking and harvest work in Hawke's Bay such a good choice for your working holiday. You can contact a coordinator in Hawke's Bay by emailing: hawkesbay@picknz.co.nz 




If you are aged between 18 and 30 years you may be eligible for the working holiday scheme which enables you to come and work in New Zealand for up to a year. Working holiday visas must be obtained in your own country prior to departure in most cases.


Working holiday information can be found on the www.immigration.govt.nz website.


Transport - as most orchards are located outside of the urban area it can be a real advantage to have your own transport. If you are looking at buying a car, make sure you buy from a reputable person and an independent car health check can be useful. Vehicles in New Zealand are required to have a Warrant of Fitness and be registered to be on the road.  If you are driving please take care on our roads. New Zealand roads can be unforgiving leaving drivers no room for mistakes.


IRD Number

Everyone working in new Zealand needs to have an IRD

(Inland Revenue Department) number. Your employer will ask for this number and it ensures you pay the correct level of tax.

The picknz office offers a fast track IRD number service and your number should be back to you within 24-48 hours of applying. Email the hawkesbay@picknz.co.nz  to find out what you will need to bring with you to apply and to find out when the office is open.


Timing of seasonal jobs available



Fruit thinning is usually carried out during the months of November and December. Excess fruit is removed from the tree by hand to allow the remaining fruit to grow to an acceptable size. Poor quality fruit is also removed at this early stage. Usually this job is paid on a piece work basis. Most often a price per tree is established and your earnings are derived from the amount of trees you thin per day or week.



Summerfruit harvest season starts early in December (apricots, peaches, plums, nectarines). Such work can be found but is somewhat scarce. More plentiful work can be found from early to mid February as the apple harvest gets into full swing.



The apple harvest  starts in mid February and goes through until late April or mid May. (Packhouses to end of June in most cases).  February and mid March are usually very warm in Hawke's Bay.  Late March and April are  often milder as autumn begins. May is often much cooler and daylight saving has come to an end, often more rain is experienced at this time so warmer clothing and rain gear is needed.



The Kiwifruit season follows the apple harvest and is usually done on a piece work basis. Kiwi fruit pickers tend to work in groups (gangs) and split the days (or weeks) earnings evenly within the gang.


Notes About Working in the Fruit Season


Harvesting is usually done on a piece rate basis. This means that the picker is paid a set rate for each bin that is picked/tree that is thinned/other type of work.  Essentially, when you have gained enough experience, the harder you work, the more you can earn on piece rates.


The advantages of piece work are that often you can make much more that the standard hourly rate. . You can work your own hours within reason.   Picking fruit is physically (and mentally) demanding and you will work hard for your hourly rate. The job is very physical so please be prepared to be fit or get fit fast while on the job. You could be sore for the first few days until your body adjusts to the new demands of fruit picking.


The benefits of hourly work are, you are paid for the hours you work (excepting for rainy days), set hours of work, and the work may not be so physically demanding. The main disadvantage of hourly work is that there is no extra incentive or opportunity to make more money within the same amount of hours worked or less. 


Tuition is often given for beginners and bin rates are adjusted to reflect the difficulty or ease of the work being done. The more suitable fruit on the trees, and the easier the picking, for example dwarf trees, will often result in a lower rate per bin. If the fruit is harder to find or the trees are larger increasing the amount of effort required to fill a bin, then the rate per bin is usually increased.


Other work is often also available. This type of work includes tractor driving, to pick up the bins harvested by the fruit pickers, quality controlling, to ensure the pickers are picking the fruit to the required quality, and pack house work, which is in a enclosed warehouse where the fruit is sorted, graded and packaged in readiness for export. These types of work are usually paid on an hourly basis.






The Fruitgrowers Association does not offer seasonal employment services. We do share offices with the picknz employment service and ask you to contact them with your job enquiries.


For all work enquiries, please Call 06 870 8540


Seasonal Update - Looking for apple harvest teams now! Lots of Jobs in Hawke's Bay
17th April 2018


Apple Harvest  teams are working their way through the last of the main harvest with jus a few weeks of harvesting remaining in Hawke's Bay.   This years crop is looking great, the weather thrugh the early harvest was hot and later on we got the cooler nights to give fruit great colour. If you are a local or here on a working holiday scheme and you would like to pick fruit, plan to be available to work mainly in the Feb to April period in 2019 . Please plan to come for a couple of months to make the most of the opportunity to earn money and enjoy the wonderful climate here next season.


The Pick NZ office is now open. To check the opening hours visit the www.picknz.co.nz website.  Picknz is a not for profit Industry funded service to put employers and workers together. The opening hours are limited to what the funding can cover.  Picknz works with known and trusted employers only.



The Apple harvest provides the most opportunities for seasonal employment in Hawke's Bay.  Apple harvest begins in mid to late February  and runs until mid to late April each year. 


Careers - for NZ Residents and Citizens

Emerging markets and improved returns for the industry are leading to big jobs growth in the Hawke's Bay fruit growing industry.  There excellent full time permanent opportunities with training and support available for people with the right attitude and who are keen to learn.

If you are a local person looking to take up a career in the fruit industry consider becoming an industry Apprentice to train to be a future supervisor or manager. 


The Picknz office can help to assist NZ citizens and residents in to full time work and industry apprenticeships.




Handy tips for picking apples in Hawke's Bay

Pickers talk to your supervisor about the correct way to pick fruit without bruising. 


There are little techniques in regard to ladder placement and order in which fruit is picked that will lift your picking rate, for example: walk ladders between positions rather than lift them.  Picking both sides of the between row alley will halve the distance ladders have to be moved.  Start with the empty picking bucket at the top of the ladder, then fill it as you come down, then continue to complete filling it from the ground including clearing lower tree fruit to make way for the next ladder placement.


Emptying picking buckets into the bin is where a lot of handling damage can occur. Do this with care every time to prevent bruising damage and to keep your quality controller happy!



Check out some of the seasonal jobs picknz people do in Hawke's Bay during the harvest season............                                employment-photos

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