Have you ever wondered how a typical day looks like when living and working in New Zealand as a horticultural worker? I went to New Zealand with no expectations and without even knowing what my next steps would be. However, I eventually turned out to become a full-time horticultural worker during my working period and it was well out of what I would have imagined! Read on to see how a typical day would look like for you on work days, rest days and holidays.

1. Typical Work Day as a horticultural worker

A typical work day in New Zealand looks like this as a horticultural worker:

Starting the day

  • Wake up as early as 6am and wash up. Queue for your turn at the toilet if you’re using a shared toilet in your accommodation.
  • Prepare breakfast and packed lunch. Factor enough time to finish up your breakfast and even queue to use the kitchen if you’re sharing the space with housemates
  • Gear up for work. If you’re working outdoors, prepare to shield yourself against the sun. If you’re working indoors as in a cold packhouse, prepare all your thick winter wear to guard against the cold. Also, don’t forget to pack in a large water bottle and your packed lunch!! Forget them and you’re in for a painful day at work.

Getting to work

blueberry picking new zealand, a typical day in New Zealand as a horticultural worker
  • Work like mad. Hustle, hustle hustle. Back in Singapore, I had the luxury of enjoying my lunch breaks at my own time own target. In New Zealand, things were very different. Various jobs have different lunch breaks. As a blueberry picker, I got to pick my own lunch time and eat for as long as I want as I was paid by the minute. As a blueberry packer, I only had 30 minutes for lunch and two 15-minutes break for a full 8 to 10 hours shift. However, as a potato grader, I only had 15 minutes for lunch and no breaks unless requested for the 12-hour shift. Just imagine how hard we worked.

End of a tiring work day

Cooking on a typical day in New Zealand as a horticultural worker
  • Get home and queue to use the toilet and kitchen again. This was a daily “warzone” with our housemates but it was really fun as we always got ideas from each other’s menu and even shared our food on certain days.
  • Have dinner and enjoy a leisure chat with your housemates or even a movie night if you feel like it. Drink some wine if you’d like too. New Zealand is like a wonderland for wines, so you get to try a large variety of wine from all over the country.
  • Write your journal for the day or update your social media with it so you can remember what happened years down the road.
  • Sleep and repeat your day tomorrow. My work shifts also changes with the jobs I had. As a blueberry packer, we worked a 5.5 day work week, while a 6-days work week for potato graders.

2. Finally a Rest Day! What should I do?

Finally a rest day, should I sleep in? Yes, definitely sleep past 6am please HAHA! Then, get up early enough to enjoy this particularly precious rest day.

  • Stock up on groceries. This is very essential as I only have the energy to do this once a week with my hectic work schedule. The nearest large supermarket around where I was then was a 30 minutes drive away. Hence, I always make sure to buy enough to last for the next week.
  • Add petrol to your vehicle. Again, it’s just because I’m lazy to do so on a weekday evening when I’m already drained HAHA! It helps that the petrol kiosk is right next to the supermarkets too 🙂
  • Plan for your holidays! With the nature of our job, sometimes there are days we don’t have to work because of bad weather or a machine malfunction. That’s when we get to travel to nearby places over the longer weekends. I was based in Hastings and actually made use of all the long weekends to explore places from Taupo, Rotorua, Napier, Gisborne, Taumarunui and New Plymouth. Just note that sometimes last-minute planning is unavoidable as we would only know of our work schedule the night before.
  • Just chill and watch Netflix. Here’s when I accummulated lots of wine and chips in my tummy.
  • Catch up on non-working holiday life. I chatted with my family and friends back in Singapore, updating
  • Enjoy the activities in your area too. I hung out at cafes with my housemates for a leisure coffee break and also did hikes nearby such as the Shine Falls, Sugarloaf Reserve and Te Mata Peak.

3. Holiday time!!!

Well, you don’t need me to tell you how a holiday works in New Zealand! I just thought of including this here to identify things that are definitely iconic and unique to a holiday in New Zealand. You can even check out my travel guides to the North Island and South Island if you need some inspiration on how to plan for your trips too!

  • Check the weather each time you wake up. This became a habit when I was there as many activities are easily affected by the weather. From skydiving, bungy jumping, heli-hikes to even normal hiking, you would pray for good weather to get the best experience.
  • Check the maps for the route you’re taking for the day. You never know when there may be a road closure overnight becuase of a heavy rain that caused a landslide. I encountered that at least twice on my travels and had to detour or change our plans because we could not get to our next destination. Use the New Zealand Road Planner to plan your trip!
  • Plan for regular trips to the supermarkets to stock up on food too if you’re not planning to always stay in the city. I cooked a lot during my travels in New Zealand. I think that’s really typical of a holiday in New Zealand especially if you’re staying the night at places like Mt Cook or Arthur’s Pass, where there’s not much food options available.

So, are all these within what you’ve expected of a typical day in New Zealand as a horticultural worker or even during a holiday? Share your thoughts with me!

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