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Apple Picking Season in New Zealand: A Complete Guide for Workers

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Apple Picking Jobs in New Zealand

With New Zealand‘s fertile lands, apple orchards are abundant! Every harvest season, farms need extra workers to pick crops for about 10 weeks. Apple picking requires no experience and no huge job application process; just people that are willing to work hard for the season. Being paid per piece helps with motivation, giving workers a chance to earn more than minimum wage. It’s a great way to top up your funds while travelling in New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa! Want to know more? Then check out our guide to the apple picking season in New Zealand below!

Is Apple Picking for You?

Apple picking is an easy job to get in New Zealand, but it’s physically demanding. You’ll need to be relatively fit to do well! On top of that, it’s a great opportunity to meet other backpackers and make some quick money for a couple of months. To help get a job, follow our job searching tips in How to Quickly Find a Job in New Zealand.

Where to Find Apple Picking Jobs in New Zealand

There are several regions with apple orchards in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Apple Growing Regions

Around 60% are in the Hawke’s Bay region near Napier and Hastings, and around 26% of orchards are in the Nelson Tasman region in Riwaka, Motueka, Moutere and Richmond. A complete list of regions with the percentage of New Zealand’s total apple crop includes:

  • Hawke’s Bay (60%)
  • Nelson Tasman (26%)
  • Otago (4%)
  • Waikato (3%)
  • Gisborne (2%)
  • Wellington’s Wairarapa (1%)
  • Others (2%).

In other words, these are the regions to aim for when searching for apple picking jobs in New Zealand.

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When is the Apple Picking Season in New Zealand?

Generally, the apple picking season starts during mid-February in the North Island and upper South Island and late-February in Otago. However, a few regions in recent years have experienced earlier picking seasons, for instance, orchards in Hawke’s Bay started the season 10 days earlier in 2018. So be prepared to look for apple picking jobs about two weeks earlier than the season is “supposed” to start.

How Long Does the Apple Picking Season Last?

The apple picking season in New Zealand usually lasts for 10-11 weeks. Expect the season to end around the end of April/early May. It will end around mid-May in the Otago region.

For more fruit picking seasons and locations across the country, check out our guide to the Picking Seasons in New Zealand.

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How to Apply for Apple Picking Jobs?

Once the apple picking season comes around, getting an apple picking job will be, well, as easy as picking apples! Here are a few ways to find an apple picking job quickly.

Online Job Listings

Some apple orchards recruit workers early through online job listings to get prepared for the season. Check out listings on:

Working Hostels

Hostels are a popular long-term accommodation choice when working on a fruit orchard for the season. For that reason, many hostels in regions with a large horticulture industry will team up with apple orchards to find workers. If you choose to stay in a working hostel, that hostel will be able to find work for you. Find out more in our complete guide, What is a Working Hostel in New Zealand?

Recruitment Agencies

The idea of a recruitment agency is for them to match you up for an interview with potential employers, many of which are in the horticulture industry. Signing up for a job recruitment agency is usually free, so you have nothing to lose. Plus, agencies often have access to jobs that may not be advertised elsewhere. Find our more about using recruitment agencies in our guide, What You Need to Know About Recruitment Agencies in New Zealand.

Ask Around

Not many farmers are tech-savvy enough to put their job listings online. In fact, in New Zealand, most jobs are found face-to-face. So ask around and visit fruit orchards to hand in your CV/resume and show you are ready to work!

For a full guide on how to find a job, with many tips applicable to apple picking work, check out How to Quickly Find a Job in New Zealand.

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What is an Apply Picking Job Like in New Zealand?

You may have figured out that apple picking is picking apples off trees. Pickers will work in teams to fill large containers called “bins”. Each picker will be equipped with a special apple picking bag that, once full, you drop off the load into a bin and start picking again. Bins can usually hold between 17-25 picking bags. There will be a driver in the team taking full bins away and replacing them with empty ones.

The farm may ask you to do some quality control along the way, asking you to only pick apples of a certain colour or avoid picking apples that look a certain way.

We have tips for picking efficiency in the 7 Tactics to Fill More Bins in Your Fruit Picking Job so you can make as much money as possible! Plus, for more information about picking jobs, and other types of jobs in New Zealand fruit orchards, see Working a Fruit Picking Job in New Zealand.

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How Much Do You Get Paid for Apple Picking in New Zealand?

As with many kinds of picking jobs in New Zealand, you will be “paid per piece” or “paid per bin”. Instead of receiving an hourly wage, you will be paid depending on how many bins you and/or your team fill. This is a good opportunity to earn above minimum wage on a temporary and entry-level job. Note that you can never earn below minimum wage (or, at least, it is illegal to do so).

Pay per Bin (Pay per Piece)

Bin rates are different between farms, apple types and what the apples will be used for, usually ranging between NZ$24.50 to NZ$32 per bin. However, even within the same farm, different bins may have different rates, which is called a “sliding rate”. For instance, a bin of higher-quality organic apples will have a higher rate than a bin for apple juice. This means that you may see different bin rates listed on your payslip.

Bin rates and sliding rates must be stated on your Employment Agreement with the lowest rate possible to the highest rate. Your employer can pay you higher than the highest rate stated in the Employment Agreement, but it is illegal for them to pay you under minimum wage. The current minimum wage in New Zealand is can be found on the Employment New Zealand website.

If you’re still unsure how apple picking wages work, take a look at Fruit Picking Jobs in New Zealand: Wages Explained.

How Many Bins?

People new to picking can usually fill 3-4 bins per day in their first couple of weeks. Like most things, the more you do something, the better you get at it. After about a month of picking, the average picker will fill 5-7 bins per day. Experienced pickers can even reach 8-10 bins on a good day. Check out our 7 Tactics to Fill More Bins in Your Fruit Picking Job for advice on making as much money in your apple picking job as possible!

Holiday Pay

Even as a temporary worker, you are entitled to holiday pay in New Zealand. Your holiday pay is 8% of what you earn. Most often, you will be paid your holiday pay at the end of your employment, however, some employers will pay your holiday pay per week. Your holiday pay should be separate and easily identifiable on your payslip.

Find out more about your minimum employment rights as an apple picker in our guide, New Zealand Employment Rights for Working Holiday & Seasonal Workers.

More About Apple and Fruit Pickings Jobs in New Zealand

That’s it for our guide to the apple picking season in New Zealand for workers. For more advice to help you on your seasonal work or working holiday, take a look at the following guides:

Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in Working a Fruit Picking Job in New Zealand.


Robin C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before calling New Zealand home. He has now spent over a decade in the New Zealand tourism industry, clocking in more than 600 activities across the country. He is passionate about sharing those experiences and advice on NZ Pocket Guide and its YouTube channel. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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