New Zealand Working Holiday (Part 27) : Working as a Blueberry Picker at Gourmet Blueberries Limited in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay

In order to extend my working holiday visa in New Zealand, I need to complete at least 3 months seasonal work in any horticulture or viticulture industries. The seasonal work can include planting, maintaining, harvesting or packing crops.

I did kiwifruits/avocado packing with SEEKA in Tauranga, Bay of Plenty until the end of the season, so it was time for me to move on to another job in another city. This time, I landed myself a job as a blueberry picker with Gourmet Blueberries Limited in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay, and it is the best job I ever did!! 😍👍

 

Gourmet Blueberries Employment Open Days 2016 – 2017 Season  

I found out through friends and Gourmet Blueberries’ official Facebook page that they are conducting a 2-day Employment Open Days on the 23 and 24 November to employ blueberry pickers, blueberry packers and members of the harvest team (strictly limited to the first 200 applicants per day). All applicants must apply in person at the Gourmet Blueberries office from 10am onwards with the following original documents:

 

Type of Applicants

Original Documents Needed

New Zealand Citizens

1. NZ Passport or Birth Certificate

2. NZ Driver’s License or 18+ Card

3. Printed NZ Bank Account with your Name

4. Printed IRD Account Confirmation with your Name

 

International Applicants

1. Passport

2. Work Visa with Conditions

3. Printed NZ Bank Account with your Name

4. Printed IRD Account Confirmation with your Name

 

Do note that photocopies or handwritten documents will not be accepted.

 

Two of my friends and I arrived at Gourmet Blueberries Limited on Portsmouth Road in Flaxmere, Hastings on the first day of the Employment Open Days as early as 7am in order to secure a place among the first 200 applicants of the day to find a sea of people already waiting at the gates. 😱 We found out that some had been waiting in line as early as 5am! Not only that, some even camped overnight just to get a place among the hundreds of people competing to get the job.

Thankfully, all three of us managed to get a place among the first 200 people to successfully submit our application forms and supporting documents to the person in charge at Gourmet Blueberries Limited’s office. It took about 3 hours to complete the entire process from 10am, but the wait was worthwhile for we got the job! Hurray!! 😁

 

Here’s a tip for you: Follow Gourmet Blueberries Limited’s official Facebook page or TradeMe profile to get the latest job vacancy updates and apply for work by sending your Expression of Interest or CV to them via email. All the best and good luck!

 

And a gentle reminder tooPlease do not use me as a reference person unless I know you on a personal level and you have asked for my permission and consent to be your reference person. I will not hesitate to report anyone misusing me as their reference person to get/land a job with Gourmet Blueberries Limited without my knowledge and/or consent to the management for their dishonesty. Bear in mind that it will greatly affect your credibility and employability chances.

 

Gourmet Blueberries Seasonal Employment Opportunities – Employment Open Days (2016-2017 Season) flyer
Gourmet Blueberries Limited conducted a 2-day Employment Open Days on the 23 and 24 November 2016 to employ blueberry pickers, blueberry packers and members of the harvest team (strictly limited to the first 200 applicants per day)
Jenny, Francesco and Erika waiting in line to submit their application forms at Gourmet Blueberries Limited office during the first day of the 2-Day Employment Open Days
The first 200 applicants waiting in line to successfully submit their application forms during Gourmet Blueberries Limited’s 2-Day Employment Open Days
Thankfully, all three of us managed to get a place among the first 200 people to successfully submit our application forms at Gourmet Blueberries Limited’s office on the first day of the 2-Day Employment Open Days. It took about 3 hours to complete the entire process from 10am, but the wait was worthwhile for we got the job! 😀
Jenny, Francesco and Erika were one of the lucky 200 applicants per day to successfully submit our application forms and worked as a blueberry picker at Gourmet Blueberries Limited in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay
Woohoo…I got the job, peeps!! I’m officially a blueberry picker at Gourmet Blueberries Limited in Hastings for season 2016/2017!

 

Blueberry Picking – The Best Seasonal Job Ever!!

I have to say, working as a blueberry picker with Gourmet Blueberries in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay is the best seasonal job I ever did in New Zealand! The working hours were flexible; we were only required to work a minimum of 4 hours a day and can start picking blueberries either early in the morning or in the afternoon. We can choose to stop picking and go back home after having done 4 hours worth of work a day.

In addition, we were free to determine the duration/length of picking we want to do and can choose to go or not to go to work any day for a certain period of time. For example, I can pick for a week, then take a break and go for a holiday to South Island for a week before coming back to continue picking again the following week. We were allowed to pick blueberries as long as the contract has not ended.

Other than that, Gourmet Blueberries Limited is a good employer and wage payer. Our wages were paid on time each week according to the weight of blueberries we have picked – the more, the better. There was a minimum picking quota to fulfil (1 hour = 6kg or more). The minimum wage was NZD15.25 an hour before it was increased to NZD15.75 several months later. Apart from our wages, picking bonuses were given from time to time to reward and encourage pickers to pick more.

What I like about Gourmet Blueberries Limited is that they really pay the rates promised unlike certain rotten apple companies or cunning contractors who have the tendency to rip people off their much deserved wages. 😬 Take my dear friend’s case for example; they promised to pay him NZD45 for a bin of picked apples, but deliberately lowered down the price to NZD30 a bin after he did 10 bins in a day. That is a NZD150 rip-off from the promised payment!! 😡

Sadly, I found out that it is a common practise here in New Zealand and I will write a blog post about the scams to lookout for when in New Zealand. Yes, there are scams to watch out for even in this seemingly beautiful, peaceful and friendly country. Bookmark my blog and stay tune for the blog post.

 

The extensive blueberry farm at Gourmet Blueberries Limited in Hastings, Hawkes Bay
A weighing station in the blueberry farm at Gourmet Blueberries Limited in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay. Drinking water and sunscreen lotion are provided at each weighing station for the blueberry pickers to use
Portable toilets are provided on the site of the blueberry farm at Gourmet Blueberries Limited in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay

 

A Blue Ribbon Blueberry Picker

New pickers were given red ribbons before getting green ribbons the next day. After that, coloured ribbons were given according to the speed, total weight and quality of the blueberries one picks. The best blueberry pickers get blue ribbons while the intermediate ones get yellow ribbons. It is possible to be upgraded or downgraded a ribbon colour depending on our picking quality and quantity from time to time.

For your info, a blue ribbon picker gets priority for picking throughout the season, gets the best picking rows and be given a good reference letter upon request. To be a blue ribbon picker is easy; just pick all the blue-coloured blueberries in large quantities with lightning speed. Do not pick the green and red-coloured blueberries. Leave them to ripen on the tree, so that we will have blueberries to pick later. It is in fact, a basic commonsense.

So far, I was told that the best blueberry picker in Gourmet Blueberries was able to pick up to 100kg a day during the peak season – what an impressive feat! Multiply that by NZD3 a kilogram (the average pricing) and he earns approximately NZD300 gross a day just by picking blueberries! 😲 My blueberry picking experience has taught me that there are several blueberry varieties such as Marimba, Misty and Centurion to name a few that come in different sizes, and each picker has their own strategy to pick more blueberries.

 

Erika worked as a blue ribbon blueberry picker for several months at Gourmet Blueberries Limited in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay
Numbered rows of blueberry plants on the farm at Gourmet Blueberries Limited in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay
One of the many numbered rows of blueberry plants I was assigned to pick on the farm at Gourmet Blueberries in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay
Green and red-coloured blueberries at Gourmet Blueberries Limited in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay – we do not pick those unripe berries!
A day’s work as a blueberry picker includes pushing the trolley and harvesting the ripe berries in rows like this @ Gourmet Blueberries Limited in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay
Erika’s crateful of hand-picked fresh blueberries at Gourmet Blueberries Limited in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay
Fresh juicy blueberries picked by Erika at Gourmet Blueberries Limited in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay

 

Good Supervisors, Friendly Runners & an Enjoyable Work Environment

I enjoyed picking blueberries for Gourmet Blueberries or in other words, I love my job! 😍 The supervisors, runners and even some of the pickers I met on the blueberry farm were friendly, nice and helpful. They taught me how to pick good quality blueberries and made my working experience a good and memorable one.

For your info, every blueberry picker is given a trolley, 2 green crates, a punnet, a hairnet and rubber gloves to complete our task. Sunscreen lotion and drinking water is provided at every operational weighing station on the farm. We harvested the blueberries according to the blocks. The pickers and I were placed in a row at a time and was required to pick every ripe blueberry in the row.

Once both crates are filled with approximately 6kg worth of blueberries (1 punnet = 1kg blueberries), the runners were called to pick up the crates for weighing and we were given picking receipts for our records. The best part is we were allowed to listen to music while we pick blueberries. Lunch break generally lasts for about 30 minutes and smokos can be taken by informing a supervisor, so that he/she can clock us out and in of our rows accordingly. Eating is prohibited in the rows or anywhere near the plants for hygiene purposes. Portable toilets are available on the site.

 

Blueberry pickers taking the bus to the GVL blueberry farm at Gourmet Blueberries Limited in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay
Francesco, Jenny and Erika enjoying the bus ride to/from the GVL farm at Gourmet Blueberries Limited in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay
A blueberry picker harvesting blueberries at Gourmet Blueberries Limited in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay
So many blueberries to pick at Gourmet Blueberries
A blueberry picker’s job is to harvest/pick only the blue-coloured blueberries and leave the green and red-coloured blueberries to ripen on the plant for the next harvest @ Gourmet Blueberries Limited in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay
Working as a blueberry picker for Gourmet Blueberries in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay is the best seasonal job I ever did in New Zealand!
A fruitful day spent picking fresh blueberries in the blueberry farm. 💖😁 A pretty 🌈 appeared in the background and I couldn’t resist taking a photo for memories @ Gourmet Blueberries Limited in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay
Pickers waiting in line to weigh their freshly picked blueberries at the end of the day at Gourmet Blueberries Limited in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay
Some of the runners and pickers posing for a photo in the blueberry farm @ Gourmet Blueberries Limited in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay

 

In a Nutshell

It was a great experience working as a blueberry picker with Gourmet Blueberries Limited in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. The pay was good, the people were awesome and the experience is priceless. I would not hesitate to go back and work there again for several seasons if given the chance. 😊

 

Up next: Working as a blueberry packer at Gourmet Blueberries Limited in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay

 

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4 Comment

  1. Sounds great!
    How long did you work there?

    1. Hi Claudie,

      I worked there from the end of November 2016 to early April 2017. 🙂

  2. Caner says: Reply

    Thanks for amazing informations 🙂
    We are looking forward for new one 🙂

    1. Hi Caner,

      You’re welcome and thanks for the support! Happy to know that you look forward to my blog updates. All the best and happy travels to you. 🙂

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