Monday, October 5, 2015

Mini Fruits Collection

Apples of varying sizes appear at the grading table. Can't bear to throw the baby ones away so I brought them back. Lined them up on the window sill and roommate who is working in a kiwi packhouse started a new line forming our mini fruits collection in Laughing Kiwi XD

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Apple "Packing" in Motueka

Third job in New Zealand was finally indoors in an apple packhouse along Ching Road in Upper Moutere, about 10-15mins drive from Motueka. We were damn lucky to get in considering it was nearing the end of the season. One was suddenly quite sick and the other was skipping work too frequently they decided to replace him. The roles we filled were part of the packing process; we didn't do the actual packing into boxes. I was a grader and he was a stacker. 

Inwood Orchards is a small family business run by Mark and Heather. Good employers who pay workers on time and even offered to be referees for our next job after we left.

Me the lazy grader with endless supply of apples hee

The line starts moving at 8am sharp with apples rolling onto the grading table. Four graders look out for any bruises, black spots, sunburns, finger nail cuts - these are discarded down the chute. At the same time, graders also remove any leaves from the stem. I was so busy rejecting defects and throwing out the leaves all at the same time the Thai graders behind me said the leaves hit their faces lol.

Rotten ones are consolidated separately in buckets that go into the juice bin

Still dare to drink apple juice?

The good ones bob down the line for packaging

The machine churns out apples continuously, packers have to be quick or they'll overflow. Responsible packers also take one last look for any defects the graders have missed earlier.

Notice how they are arranged on their sides

Packers help out any tables that are about to overflow

Besides eating apple during smoko we occasionally get these delicious treats made by the packers for all to share~

The small pantry where we had our breaks. Tea, coffee and milk are provided by the packhouse. According to the owners, the good apples are exported overseas and rejected ones are sold in local supermarkets.

Rainbow over orchard

Two fit boys stack trays weighing 15-25kg each

to as high as 25 trays

While he hated this physically demanding job, the lifting did him good as it helped him to achieve a flat tummy and bigger biceps haha.

Work ends on time at 4.30pm. Most workers stay in sleepouts located on or near the orchard. The rent is slightly cheaper (about $95 pw or less) compared to living in town not a bad idea for workers with their own transport. Heard it can get quite cold at night though.

The whole packhouse crew on the last day of work

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How to find work in Motueka

It was nearing the end of apple season and before the start of kiwi season. We figured the fastest and most effective way to find a job was to knock on doors be thick skin and ask for one. Rented bikes from Laughing Kiwi and borrowed a map from the hostel which illustrated where the orchards and packhouses were roughly located, we cycled for 7 hours around Motueka, stopping at every orchard along the way to ask for work. Every manager will say the same thing: We are full. If they don't even bother to let you leave your details, forget it and move on. If they let you leave your details, slight chance. If they tell you more about their situation and/or maybe they've got work for at least one person, good chance. The goal is not to feel discouraged by rejections and don't think about giving anything a miss as every company represents a chance. When we turned into Community Road, we found ourselves on dirt track and it was uphill.

Picker or packer doesn't matter

Vineyard changing colour as autumn approaches

The countryside was beautiful. It wasn't a common sight to see a girl riding a horse on her own as young girls would normally be spending their free time on social media. Sometimes there was not a single soul not even animals or buildings and I was getting worried we must be terribly lost as we have been on hilly dirt road for hours and we couldn't get out to the main road. At Harley Road we finally managed to see a man and I was so relieved we weren't lost just had to take a long detour to the main road. Zipped down the road and finally got onto the highway. It was kinda dangerous cycling on the shoulder with cars and huge trailers going past at 100km/h. We pressed on and went as fast as we could. Bought more food at Countdown on the way back to Laughing Kiwi. When I was making dinner, he received a call from a packhouse! Heather has work for not just one but both of us! Woohoo!! All our efforts today paid off! Lucy the hostel manager gave us another piece of good news: we can be converted to weekly rate! Thank you to whoever is watching over us.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

3D3N Abel Tasman Coast Track

Arrived in Motueka jobless. Heck, let's go to Abel Tasman first and worry about job later. Motueka i-Site went through the track with us and helped us plan the walk according to the weather forecast. We didn't do the entire track; decided to cover more distance everyday to avoid the rain on Saturday, finishing off at Totaranui. It was our first multi-day tramp and being a complete noob with wrong gear and food, there will not be any unglam photos of me crossing low tides with my pants rolled up carrying tent in one hand, shoes and a loaf of bread in the other! T_T

Start of track - Marahau causeway

As we did the track in end April (after daylight saving ended), the day was shorter and everyday we were in a hurry to get to the next campsite before it gets dark. As a result, we couldn't do the optional side trips on Day 2 and also missed a few good lookouts along the way.

First tidal crossing ahead - Torrent Bay estuary can be crossed within 2 hours either side of low tide.

That's him in the background still taking off his boots keke

Looks like someone was here last night

Torrent Bay is not a main campsite it felt a little scary in the bush by ourselves until a pair came along.

Outfield cooking army style

It rained overnight and he was so pissed his boots and socks got wet. It was still raining when we left Torrent Bay, not a great start to Day 2...

Torrent Bay the next morning, completely covered in water after last night's rain.

Between Torrent Bay and Bark Bay, there is a 47m long suspension bridge over Falls River.

Kayaking to offshore islands to see fur seals is a popular activity worth trying in warmer months.

Tonga Island

Spread out our gear to dry in the sun while deciding a spot

Onetahuti campsite was so much better than our first night at Torrent Bay. There was a cooking shelter, picnic tables and even flush toilets with toilet paper!

Onetahuti Bay day vs night

Third and last day!

Not long after we started, we hit our second tidal crossing at Onetahuti.

"I just put on my boots now I gotta take them off again!"

It was a short distance to the other side, taking about 10-15mins.

There are a few privately owned luxury lodges in the Awaroa area. We even saw an airstrip from atop!

The last tidal crossing at Awaroa took at least 30 mins due to "difficult" terrain. I had this constant struggle between choosing to walk in jandals but get stuck in the mud with each step or walk barefoot on the shells and risk getting cut.

Awaroa tidal crossing

Watching kids carrying their own packs breezing through the tide makes me wonder what I have missed out in my younger days.

Some showers along the way and I prayed it would not get any heavier. The last 20 mins uphill to Totaranui was the toughest. Reached Totaranui at 5pm as expected.

Pitched tent and cooked dinner before it got too dark. It turned windy and fire was blowing around but he still managed to cook four packs of noodles in the mesh tin.

What we eat for breakfast and lunch - this is what a novice will bring. They are not easy to carry so don't follow.

I felt abit sick during the 2.5hrs bus ride from Totaranui to Motueka via Takaka. Slept most of the journey and checked in at our new hostel Laughing Kiwi. (Note the sign below reads free wifi and hot spa) Even though we were exhausted after camping for a few days, we decided to cook instead of eat out since there's nothing nice and affordable in town. Soo comfortable to be able to sleep on a bed again! 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Wellington to Motueka via Picton: Sailing with Bluebridge

The journey to South Island was mostly forgettable and quite depressing due to the rain. I spent most of the three hours ferry ride like this - hooked up on the free wifi trying desperately to look for our next job while he looked on and chided me for not enjoying the cruise and the views outside. I wanted to post this to remind myself how foolish I was (or still is). I was letting the typical Singaporean mindset overshadow my once in a lifetime sabbatical. I'm supposed to kick back and watch the world pass by, not worry about finding a job. Did that few hours of research lead me to anything? No. Effectively I have just wasted my time away on the laptop while crossing the Cook Strait. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Adios North Island

Two months into our WH I have learnt there is no point planning too far ahead as things can change very fast. We didn't plan to leave Martinborough today until we were discussing about our plans this morning. It would be too rushed to catch the ferry on the same day to Picton so it's either we stay a night in Wellington or Picton. Decided to leave today just so we can hitch a ride from Jawl to Wellington. She caused us some inconvenience when she suddenly said she don't have time to pick us up in town as she's having drinks with friends in Featherston. !@#$%^&* Once again we had to be thick skin and beg people to give us a ride. Lucky the Czech boys agreed to take us and we were happy to pay for the petrol. Cleared our food, booked beds, ferry tickets and packed up. 匆匆地离开北岛...

Friday, April 19, 2013

End of Season Party

Last day of work ended at about 1.30pm. A party was organised that evening to celebrate the end of the grape picking season. Everyone came in their best dressed attire except us lol. The pathetic nibbles and drinks provided by stingy Jawl were not enough for about 30-40 people. I only managed to eat three sausages, one drumstick and chips. Some people were so hungry they had to eat plain bread. Plenty of booze in da house sponsored by the vineyards but useless for us who don't drink and can't appreciate alcohol. Cheers and goodbye to the people whom we had enjoyed working with as we move on from here in different directions - some return home while others continue their journey into the unknown...