Grape picking New Zealand

A day in my life: working on a New Zealand vineyard

Recently, I shared my story on finding a job in New Zealand, including my first day working at a vineyard. At this point, it’s been two weeks (read: 14 straight days of working) since the work started. We’ve definitely settled in a bit and I’ve become used to the new “routine”. So, I thought it’d be fun to take you with me and show you what a day of work looks like.

5 am: wake-up – Oh yes, our day starts way too early. At 5 am, our alarm wakes us (OK, multiple alarms, because let’s be honest, our bodies do not want to wake up that early). We make breakfast and get ready, taking enough time to pack all of our food for the day ahead and assemble our work stuff: our clippers and a super flattering, reflecting orange safety vest. The mornings have gotten a lot colder in the past few days, so I’m wearing a lot. My current outfit consists of a raincoat, two hoodies, a pair of leggings and sweatpants, as well as two pairs of socks. Luckily, at this point of the day, it’s too dark for anyone to take a picture of me. 😉

6.15 am: meet-up – At a central spot in the city, all of us meet. It’s a somewhat odd mix of a lot of backpackers, Thai seasonal workers and our supervisors. But we all get along well! As soon as everybody’s present and all of the administrative stuff has been handled (signing timesheets & safety forms for the day), we drive off into the dark. It’s a super weird and long procession of cars and van. As you can imagine, all 150 of us look amazing in our safety vests. On the plus side, we get to enjoy a beautiful sunset every morning!

New Zealand vineyard sunrise

7.30 am: work starts – By the time daylight has filled the sky, the work begins. The work is simple and repetitive. We cut off the good fruit, fill up the bins and move on to the next row. It’s hard & fast work, but it’s pretty amazing to see how we make our way through the different vineyards in such great numbers, each day.

10 am: break – We have a food/water/toilet break. Although sometimes we might move to another part of the vineyard or drive in our crazy procession to another one, today we take an entire day to make our way through a gigantic block of over 170 rows. By this time, the sun has come out and I can usually take off all those extra layers of clothing. It’s just me, my safety vest and a layer of SPF 50+ sunscreen now.

1 pm: lunch – We get half an hour to sit in the shade, enjoy some food and hydrate. I kick off my not-so-stylish rain boots; they really complete my look, as you can probably imagine by now. I’m always glad to get to sit for a little bit, before the work continues about 30 mins later.

3 pm: break – By this time, most of us can’t wait to go home, haha. Although the work is not difficult, it is physically tiring, especially in the burning sun. At this point, my back is usually aching from bending down to pick up fruit from the ground and move from each row to the next hundreds of times that day. My legs desperately do not want to go to yet another bay in the vineyard. The days are pretty long and exhausting, especially for someone used to sitting behind a desk. However, it’s nice to work outside and be active. We get another 10 mins to rest and some free drinks if it’s extremely hot. Then, we continue for the final hours.

Working on a New Zealand vineyard

4/5 pm: work ends – After what seems like forever (aka a workday of about 9 hours), we get back into our cars and drive home. We soon forget our pain as we look forward to a free night. Frank and I usually stop at the supermarket to get some food.

6 pm: shower & food – As soon as we return home, we have a shower and start preparing dinner. We spend the rest of the evening relaxing with the other backpackers staying at our place.

9 pm: off to bed – We try to get to bed on time to get enough hours of sleep. Not gonna lie though, as soon as I close my eyes, the cutting of grapes continues in my mind.

That’s a full day in my life working at a New Zealand vineyard! I hoped you liked reading this sort of post. Let me know if you want to see more of this type of content. And tell me: would you ever consider working on a vineyard in New Zealand?

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