New Zealand Working Holiday (Part 13) : Working as a Kiwifruit & Avocado Packer at SEEKA Huka Pak & Totara Coolstore in Tauranga

I came to Tauranga, Bay of Plenty in spring (September) looking for work in the kiwifruit industry (my very first job in New Zealand) and I landed myself a job as a kiwifruit packer at SEEKA Huka Pak, Mount Maunganui within the first week of my arrival. 😀

Experience is welcomed, but not necessary because training was provided. The work and pay was good, albeit tiring and I worked until the kiwifruit season officially ended in November.

 

Finding a Job in Tauranga

There is plenty of seasonal work available for job seekers in Tauranga, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand throughout the year. The kiwifruit (the most popular), construction and hospitality industry offers the most casual job opportunities.

Many kiwifruit orchards and packhouses are located out of the town centre but, there is no regular public transport out to those areas. Hence, those with their own transport will find it much easier to get work than those without. However, during the kiwifruit peak season (from late March – June) when kiwifruits are harvested, many companies provide transport to work.

I did not have my own transport to work at that time, but I managed to get a ride to/from work with my colleagues who were staying in the same hostel. Later, me and two other friends teamed up and bought a car together to use it for work and travel around New Zealand. 😀

 

Happy kiwifruit/avocado packers at SEEKA Huka Pak & Totara Coolstore in Tauranga (From top left to bottom right: Riku, YJ, Jenny, Erika and Eri)

 

How to Successfully Apply & Get a Seasonal Job in New Zealand

First of all, to legally work in New Zealand, you must have a valid working holiday or work visa. Next, you need an Inland Revenue Department (IRD) number for tax deduction purposes. You will also need a bank account verification letter (from any local bank) with your account number and name on it to receive your payment. Last but not least, you need a CV too.

Without those essential documents mentioned above, you will not be able to get a job in New Zealand and your job application will probably not even be considered. Therefore, make sure that you have all the documents needed to successfully apply for a job.

For your info, many companies in New Zealand prefer to employ walk-in job seekers or people whom they have met in person. Therefore, it is always a good idea to apply for work in person at the company that you are interested to work for. Also, it helps if you know someone already working in the company as a referral/reference person. 😉

Lastly, most packhouses prefer to employ those who can commit to work for at least 2-3 months or longer. If you are looking for a more flexible work schedule/hours, try fruit picking instead.

 

List of Packhouses in Tauranga

Company Address Contact Number/Email
DMS Packhouse – Te Puna 22 Te Puna Road, Te Puna [07] 552 5916
Seeka Huka Pak 221 Totara St, Mt Maunganui [07] 575 9812
Apata Coolstore Turntable Hill Road, Katikati [07] 552 0911
Sandfords Fish Factory Cross Road, Sulpher Point [07] 578 2109
NZ Mussel Factory 25 Glen Lyon Ave, Greerton [07] 571 3917
Transpacific Recycling 55 Truman Lane, Te Maunga [07] 578 6380

 

A Kiwifruit/Avocado Packer at SEEKA Huka Pak, Mt Maunganui

I went to the office of SEEKA Huka Pak, Mt Maunganui in Tauranga to apply and submit my job application in person as early as 7am in the morning. Pauline (the person in charge/Human Resource Manager) personally met me and processed my application form on that day itself.

Two other people from my hostel, Jenny and YJ, applied for a job as well at the same time and all 3 of us got the job as a kiwifruit packer! We were instantly ushered into a room for induction and started work the very next day. 😀 Our job was to pack kiwifruits of different sizes and varieties (from mini to jumbo, green to gold) into their respective boxes/packaging (hint: Zespri), but on some days, we got to pack avocados too. The work was easy, but required long hours of standing and intense concentration.

We started work as early as 7am and finished our work at 5pm, from Monday to Friday. Sometimes, we finished work early. We got the weekends off to rest and do our own things. Our wage was $15.25 an hour (New Zealand’s minimum wage) with an 8% holiday pay. We had 3 15-minute smoko/short breaks and a 30-minute paid lunch break.

 

A beautiful sunrise at SEEKA Totara Coolstore in Tauranga
A stunning rainbow appeared after a morning shower at SEEKA Totara Coolstore in Tauranga
An equally beautiful day at SEEKA Totara Coolstore in Tauranga. This photo was taken during a fire drill session

 

Re-Packing Kiwifruits at SEEKA Totara Coolstore

Several weeks later, we were assigned to work at a kiwifruit coolstore facility located at Totara Street, about 300 meters away from SEEKA Huka Pak. Our job includes checking the kiwifruits for defects – cuts, bruise or rot (by turning the kiwifruits with both hands) and re-packing it for export to countries such as China.

The working environment was fun (thanks to friendly colleagues and happening music), but stressful at times especially when we have a strict QC at our work station. 😛 The supervisor, Samantha was friendly though. The management rewarded our hard work and effort by treating us snacks (sweets and chocolates) and lunch a couple of times (of barbeque hotdogs and pizzas), and on the last day of work when the kiwifruit season officially ended, we had a potluck party where I made kiwifruit tarts – ohh…the irony. Haha!!

Overall, I enjoyed my time working as a kiwifruit/avocado packer and kiwifruit re-packer at SEEKA Huka Pak and Totara Coolstore in Tauranga and learnt a lot from the valuable experience.

 

One of the repacking stations at SEEKA Totara Coolstore in Tauranga
A break in the work routine gave Christina and Erika the opportunity for a selfie at SEEKA Totara Coolstore in Tauranga
Christina and Erika at SEEKA Totara Coolstore in Tauranga
To celebrate the end of the kiwifruit season, we threw a potluck party and enjoyed a variety of homemade dishes
Potluck party at SEEKA Totara Coolstore in Tauranga #1
Potluck party at SEEKA Totara Coolstore in Tauranga #2
The wonderful powerpuff girls at SEEKA Totara Coolstore in Tauranga (From left to right: Shigemi, Erika, Jenny, Yuka & Eri)

 

Up next: Taking the Baybus a.k.a Bayhopper Bus from Tauranga City Centre to Mount Maunganui & Exploring Pilot Bay Beach

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