Checklist to start working a fruit picking job in New Zealand
In order to work legally in New Zealand (and get paid), make sure you have the following before you start work:
- A valid work visa – Find out about getting a working holiday visa here.
- An IRD Number – Find out about getting this New Zealand tax number here.
- A New Zealand bank account – Learn how to open a New Zealand bank account here.
By the way, did you know there are other jobs in the horticulture industry other than picking? See Working a Fruit Picking Job in New Zealand.
How much do you get paid for Kiwifruit pIcking?
There are two types of kiwifruit grown in New Zealand, green kiwifruit and gold kiwifruit. The pay scheme for each type of kiwifruit is different depending on what type of kiwifruit orchard you work in.
Green Kiwifruit – Paid per bin
When working in a green kiwifruit orchard it is likely that you will be “Paid per bin”. You will usually work in a team of two to 20 people (depending on orchard size) to fill as many bins (large crates) as possible, as quickly as possible.Bin rates must be stated in your employment agreement. Typical bin rates can be between NZ$18-$26 per bin, which usually works out for workers to be paid around NZ$18-$26 per hour each. Bear in mind that you are likely to be on a lower bin rate for the first couple of days or so as you learn the job, then the bin rate may go up throughout the season.
Gold kiwifruit – Hourly wage
Because gold kiwifruit are fragile, great care must be taken when picking them. For this reason, gold kiwifruit pickers are usually paid an hourly rate, rather than paid per bin. Expect the hourly wage for gold kiwifruit picking to be NZ$16.50-$18 per hour.
How much do you get paid for Apple Picking (and summerfruit picking)?
Apple and summerfruit orchards work in a similar way when it comes to picking and how the workers get paid. Summerfruit refers to cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines and plums and the season for picking is usually November in the North Island and December in the lower South Island to early March. The apple picking season usually runs mid-February to mid-May.
Paid per bin
Most apple and summerfruit orchards pay their pickers on a “per bin” basis. The more bins you and your team fill, the more you get paid. Bin rates can vary from NZ$24.50 to $32 per bin. Usually, in the first couple of weeks, inexperienced pickers can fill around four bins per day, while more experienced pickers (after the first couple of weeks) will be able to fill 8-10 bins per day.
In the apple industry, there are bin rates known as “sliding rates”. Even in the same orchard, different bins can have different rates. For instance, high-quality organic apples for export are likely to have a higher bin rate than apples picked for making apple juice. Sliding rates must be stated on your employment agreement, so make sure to check.For more information, see Apple Picking Season in New Zealand.
How much do you get paid for Grape picking?
Grape picking is a common job in New Zealand vineyards to make wine. Although most vineyards use machines for picking, there are still many vineyards that prefer to look for manual pickers every harvest season. The grape picking season usually runs from February to April.
Grape pickers are usually paid an hourly wage. Most often, it’s the New Zealand minimum wage (NZ$17.70 in 2019). However, some pickers may be lucky enough or experienced enough to earn up to NZ$18 per hour.
Important things to know about fruit picking wages
Minimum Wage entitlement
The New Zealand minimum wage is NZ$17.70 before tax, no matter how many hours you work or what type of contract you are on. Even if you are paid per bin or per piece, the total amount you are paid must be no less than minimum wage, even if you do not technically fill up enough bins to earn that much.
The income you earn in New Zealand will have tax deducted through a Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) system, as well as an ACC levy – the New Zealand insurance scheme to go towards costs if you are injured, which is included in your tax deduction. The tax deducted is usually around NZ$10.05% of your wage when working at a fruit picker. See New Zealand Work Tax System: Work and Pay Your Taxes! for rates on how much tax will be deducted.Your employer is not allowed to make any more deductions from your pay without your signed permission.
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 in New Zealand Working Holiday Employment Rights.
End of Season Bonus
Some, but not all, fruit orchards may offer a bonus to pickers for working for the full harvest season. For “paid per bin” rates, this is likely to be an extra NZ$2 per bin if you stay on the whole season.
Rain = No work
Most picking work does not take place when it is raining, so bear in mind that you might not always get full-time hours every week. This is important to keep in mind when working out how much money you want to earn, as it rains frequently in New Zealand.