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I could romanticize it…

Our first full day in Gisborne was devoted to trying to find work. It was a bit discouraging at first, as none of the vineyards need workers, but we finally stopped in to a citrus orchard where a guy called Murray said he had oranges to pick. The orchard surrounds his main business, which is a timber haulage company. The citrus is hardly how he makes his living, it seems more like a bit of extra pocket money for him, but we’re sure glad he has it. He’s been really good to us. He’s let us camp in his orchard (complete with a hot shower, a sink to wash our dishes in, and internet) since then. We’ve spent the week picking his organic tangelos.

I could romanticize it…

They’re the most amazing fruits. A cross between mandarins and oranges, they’re the sweetest, juiciest pieces of citrus I’ve ever experienced. We’re allowed to help ourselves to as many as we like, whilst working under the springtime sunshine. The orange blossoms are really fragrant and smell amazing. From our ladders we can see vineyards and farms stretching for miles, with mountains in the background. Every now and then we come across a birds nest with pretty blue eggs or newborn babies, and do our best not to disturb them. Tom’s been having fun learning how to drive the tractor/forklift.

Or I could complain…

The sacks we fill get really heavy, so we’re both getting back ache. The branches scrape your arms and legs unless you’re wearing jeans and long sleeves, and then it gets too hot. The leaves and oranges that I thought were covered in dirt are actually covered in shit. Literally. It’s the poo of tiny white bugs (an invasive species from Australia) that look far too small to leave much of anything behind, but because there’s bazillions of them it starts to add up. They’re not the only bugs in the trees. I did well not to fall off my ladder the first time a cockroach scurried across my arm. They’re harmless, unlike the occasional wasp with a nest, but they’re still not pleasant. In the middle of the afternoon the sun becomes unbearably hot. We’re still not sure how much money we’re making. We get paid by the kilo, but we’re not sure how much, or how many kilos we’ve picked, so we’re trusting Murray to pay us decently for a long week of work.

The reality is somewhere in between…

We’re happy to have work. We’ve started picking every morning, taking a long break and swimming/surfing during the heat of the day, and then coming back to work when the evenings start to cool down. Fortunately, we both have mums who have taught us to work really hard, and I have the added motivation of wanting to get back to Michigan for my best friends’ wedding in August, and that’s enough to keep us grateful for the work. Having a place to shower and camp for free is a great bonus, and weve been making friends with some of Murrays other employees.

For photos of us in the orchard, please visit <>

Submitted by: Katie Mae
Date submitted: 7/12/2010 7:57:55 PM

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North Island Notes Wed Apr 20

Fruitpicking in Napier Wed Apr 20

blueberry harvest season Thu Apr 7

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Fortune Fruit and spitting cherry pits competitions Tue Feb 15

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My New Zealand adventure :) Wed Nov 3

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First Job Thinning Apples... Mon Mar 1

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Loving New Zealand.. Mon Feb 8

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