Working in a Kiwifruit Packhouse in Tauranga – Day 322, Part 2
A classic backpacker job!
Today we are trying out of the easiest seasonal jobs to get in New Zealand: it’s working in a kiwifruit packhouse in Tauranga! If you like this video and want to see more 365 Days: 365 Activities in New Zealand, jump on over to our epic YouTube Channel & Subscribe!
Today we are doing the most iconic backpacker job in New Zealand, we are going to be working in the kiwifruit industry.
Previously on New Zealand’s biggest gap year Day 322 part 1 we took you to Te Puke which is the kiwifruit capital of New Zealand and we join a bunch of backpackers in kiwifruit picking. It was an awesome experience and we got to see where the kiwifruit are coming from but we are not done just yet. Today we’re going to be showing you where they are going. If you guys don’t want to miss out on anything that has happened on New Zealand’s Biggest Gap Year make sure to hit the subscribe button, and join our notification squad so you get an update every single time we post an awesome video.
this afternoon after doing the kiwifruit picking we are head are heading onto the next stage of the kiwifruit’s journey and a popular backpacker job in New Zealand which is working in a kiwifruit packhouse. We are head to Huka Pak which is the largest kiwifruit producer in New Zealand and Australia and it’s the perfect place to learn about kiwifruit packing.
Alright so we’re gonna go through a few different jobs while staying in Huka Pak today.
The first thing that we’re doing is joining Justin and his team in traymaking. This is pretty simple and self-explanatory basically this machine is making the trays in which the kiwifruit are gonna be shipped overseas.
It’s a pretty cool system where one person is on one side of the machine loading the different components of the trays into the machine and the machine is making the trays itself, then another person is at the other end is making piles for the next stage of the process.
A little bit like we did this morning we get the chance to try this job ourselves and oh my God you actually get an amazingly quick rhythm cos that machine is using those tray parts really quickly and you need to reload it at a super fast pace.
Those two girls working here definitely have the rhythm and they are actually producing boxes super fast. I’m actually really impressed how quickly the rhythm is going and Laura and I are having hard time keeping up with them. To be fair, both of the girls which are working here told us they were struggling in the beginning but after one day you get the rhythm and start working super fast and you need to work really fast when you are in this kind of job because you are paid per tray you are making, that’s right, this job works a little bit like the kiwifruit we were picking, per piece. So that means that every single tray that they are making, they’re getting paid for it. But don’t worry, even if you are a little bit slow during your first couple of days you will still always be paid minimum wage cos that’s the New Zealand law. But the girls right now got a really good rhythm going on and their current rate per hour is $32.64, that’s pretty good on New Zealand standards.
Continuing the journey of the kiwifruit that we picked this morning and loaded into bins, the bins are then taken to this stage of the packhouse where they are then tipped onto this large conveyor belt. Based on our schedule there’s a 175 for that grower, on the computer it will say yep, 175 took, and we know everything is tipped. There’s nothing left behind, we’re not short, we didn’t get the wrong guy, the wrong fruit.
Cos you have to pay them back right?
For backpackers looking for seasonal work which is pretty easy to get into the kiwifruit packhouse is the perfect place. There’s so many different components and aspects to the kiwifruit packhouse and each component needs workers for it. For instance, we’re at the tipping section right here where each bin from each grower in the area is tipped one by one into this huge conveyor belt where it is then getting onto the next section to be graded and the workers here are doing quality control.
There’s different qualities, grade 1, grade 2, class 3, rejects, undersize, things like that.
And they just go in a different place or?
Yeah, different place.
We’re now moving onto the grading section of the kiwifruit packhouse which to be honest it doesn’t require workers it is all done by machine. This machine is not only weighing the kiwifruit but also taking pictures for consistency determining where they need to go to be packed and to be shipped overseas.
Separate class 1 and class 2 fruit.
and then go over onto the machine, packing machine. This part we make up the boxes and put bits or wrappers or whatever in, it goes in underneath the machine the fruit bag drops, and the boxes and fruit come together and you’ll see that when we get on that side.
This the tray prep area, that’s the grading, and the packing is on that side.
It’s quite fascinating to see this massive factory in action. I for one had no idea what kind of journey the kiwifruit were going through before being packed and sent to my local supermarket.
But we’re already moving onto the next section of our tour which is the actually packing stage and this is where most backpackers would find a job when working in a packhouse.
So got a burnt one, got dark spots, that there’s sunburn, heywood?
The speed that which these workers is picking up all the rejects is amazing.
This one can be eaten right now?
So why you throwing it out?
Cos it’s gonna sit in a box. Pack it in a box, it’s gonna be six weeks before it reaches market.
If it goes today on the boat to Europe.
So it’s not for New Zealand market?
Oh where is it going? Europe?
Europe or Asia or Malaysia.
So depending on where it goes some of it will sit in the cool store up until the end of November.
But before we try our hand at packing the kiwifruit we want to see the trays that we were making a little bit earlier on and turns out this process as well is very robotic.
They get the label on and then as soon as there’s an open space we let a box in, and push it in.
This giant factory floor with robots and kiwifruit and boxes everywhere is an entire synergy of backpackers and machines, it’s quite amazing to actually walk around there but there is still more steps into the kiwifruit life before it gets packed so we are moving onto the next stage.
There’s weighing scales over there, so each kiwifruit is weighed and depending on the weight it’s determined which label it’s gonna get, the first label or second label, and based on that it’s gonna determine where it’s gonna fall.
And you got different sizes, 30s 22s 27s 36s 42s so based on
So those are in milimetres or?
Weight? Ok, yeah.
This section right here is where we get to watch the mesmerising sticker machine putting a sticker on every single kiwifruit before the kiwifruit is then divided into different sections depending on their different grades.
And different grades go to different packers and packers are combination of both people packing by hand, but there’s a few really awesome machines that do the packing as well.
There are three different ways that the kiwifruit are packed in this kiwifruit packhouse and the first way that we’re checking out is by this huge machine which takes the kiwifruit that are not quite ripened yet so they’re sturdier and they can be thrown around a little bit and they bulk pack them into these boxes.
How mesmerising is it to watch this conveyor belt run? But once they are packed in there it goes onto this conveyor belt where someone is waiting at the other end to fold up the package and put it onto a forklift to then be put into the coolstore.
There’s another way of packing though which are for gold kiwifruit which are a lot more fragile, at that’s with this crazy suction machine.
It uses this laser technology to align with the kiwifruit and pick it up one by on and place it perfectly into the trays.
This machine is that careful that it could be picking up eggs without breaking them whatsoever.
And finally, the third way kiwifruit are packed and the majority of the kiwifruit are packed here, is by humans, by hand, by backpackers that are working here for the kiwifruit season.
And by the way, if you are guys are wandering the kiwifruit season usually lasts between March and November and then is when the bulk of the kiwifruit industry jobs can be found so if you guys are planning your trip make sure that you plan yourself to have some working time around this time of the year.
I have to be honest, packing kiwifruit is actually quite stressful job, the kiwifruit are arriving really quickly onto the conveyor belt and we are actually on one of the slowest conveyor belts. Different conveyor belts have different speeds depending on the type of grade kiwifruit that it has.
Remuneration wise though this is one of the least stressful job, you don’t have to stress too much about how much you’re producing those jobs are usually paid minimum wage if it’s your first season. If it’s your second or third season you’re usually paid a much higher rate which can go up to $20 an hour.
So we really hope during those two part episode to show you the wealth of jobs that there is in the kiwifruit industry but we wouldn’t leave without showing you massive store room that contains more kiwis than New Zealand itself.
There’s quite a few kiwifruit behind us. Just a few.
But we are not leaving Tauranga tomorrow we are going to be doing something pretty awesome we’re gonna be doing some stand-up paddle boarding around Mt Maunganui itself so join us then.