Motueka is famous for its apples and kiwifruit, bringing workers from all over the world into the orchards and packhouses each season. We worked at the Thomas Brothers Packhouse for two months and got a first hand impression of what seasonal work is like. We also discovered Motueka and its surroundings a bit. Here are a few impressions of what life was like for these two months:
From early in the year up to April the main fruit to be packed are apples. Everything from Braeburn over Jazz to more exclusive varieties like Koru and Envy grows in Motueka. The apples need to be washed, graded (which means sorting out the bruises, cuts, etc and separating between grade I and grade II), packed into boxes and stacked on pallets to be shipped all around the world.
The same happens to the kiwifruit, coming in from mid to end April until the end of May. There are surprisingly many varieties of kiwifruit as well, not only the best known Green, but also Gold, Charm and other new varieties.
Kay and me were packing the fruit and checking them for any kind of marks, bruises, wrong colours/sizes and so on. Sometimes we had very quiet days with lots of stops in between, sometimes it was really stressful and chaotic. The job itself was rather boring, but with all the people around us (mostly backpackers from Asia, Europe and South America) to talk to it was really a great way to earn money without working too hard. The supervisors were great, too, and took each problem with heaps of patience and a smile on their face.