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“Well certainly my dear,” she said “you’re going to have a lovely time at the lodge, believe you me.”

“OK, Angie. It’s a deal then. We’ll be there in three days. See ya!”

Wow! I thought to myself, what a nice lady. Can’t wait to get there. I googled “RUSSELL NZ”, clicked the “image” tab and it seemed to be the perfect place. Really beautiful. So we packed our stuff, which is not so little, threw everything in the car and said goodbye to our woofing hosts in Tauranga. It was a really nice experience to woof on a farm, but we needed some extra cash and we thought we’ll be able to get a full-time or part-time job in Russell. Also the Rena mess made our decision to leave the region an easy one.

The deal with Angie, the owner of the Family Park in Russell, was that we work there for 2,5 hours daily for accommodation. Which sounded quite reasonable at the moment, comparing it to the 5 hours we worked at the farm for a room and most of the food. Plus we could apply for some afternoon paid jobs in the town, which there are “heaps” of.

So there we were. A 27 year old Slovenian couple, both with university degrees (not that it matters, not here not at home), full of energy and expectations parked at the Family Park to begin our work there. Angie greeted us with a voice that was a mixture of snobbish English and something I couldn’t figure out at that moment. She showed us our room, which was a big one with four beds and a small fridge. The furniture and the equipment in the room were slightly out of date, some 30 years, but so were the most things around the Park. Never than less we kind of liked it and were happy to finally sleep on a double bed after last week sharing a bunk, which doesn’t help the relationship balance.

“You guys relax, and go to the town to ask for some work. I’ve talked with the restaurants in the town and they need heaps of help there. I’m sure you’ll find something quickly. No worries. You’ll be okay here. Believe you me.”

“That’ cool. Thanks Angie. And we start to work tomorrow? What type of work we will be doing?”

“Well, we’ve got cleaning covered, so that means you two can do a lot of gardening. Is that all right with you?” asked very politely, emotionless. 
“I guess so. I love working outside in the nature. And what time should we start?”

“Oh, I’ll tell you in the evening, I have to ask Bob, because he will be working with you guys.”

Bob was her husband, a Kiwi. An all right dude turned bitch whipped. But that’s how things turn out sometimes, even for the toughest chaps. She came from Australia and after getting to know her made me consider real good if I want to visit the country. They lived half of year in New Zealand and half a year in Australia. A well of couple with two grown up daughters. They bought the place ages ago as a type of investment and rented it out to different managers. I’ve been told that the prior manager turned the place into a dump. Having drug dealers living there and let it slowly rot away. Now it was their time to take over their kingdom again and regain power and the Working-Holiday Visa travelers were their servants that would make the magic work.

There were lots of other people working at the place. A 19 year old German couple so beautifully naive and full of hopes and dreams it made you feel like a teenager again. But they had to work 3 hours daily, because they stayed in a special lodge, which was much smaller than our room, but had a terrace and wooden floor. There was also a German girl (seems that these days the country has more German population than Argentina after WWII) who was also looking for some paid job, because she wanted to travel with her boyfriend who is on the way here. But she was more or less in her room watching soaps and searching for jobs that actually paid, so we didn’t had much contact. And not to forget a 6 head family, which were the coolest people we met so far. So we were the Park pack. Doing whatever there was, to keep it clean, keep it pretty to Australian standards and to be good obedient workers, which we were forced and proved to be just the next day.

“Why don’t we go down to the town to ask for jobs?” Katja asked me.

“All right than. I just grab the CVs and we’re off,” I replied, ”it would be nice if we find something today, ha?”

“Yes, that would be cool. So we can finally save up something as we agreed to.”

The little town of Russell, which we didn’t know by then how little it was, was very little. It wasn’t just very little it was also a good hour walk from the Park. So here we go petrol money! The town center consists of four restaurants, two cafes, a pub, three souvenir shops and two supermarkets of the same company. Lots of opportunities for everybody I guess. So afterward I checked the web, telling me that that Russell has only about 2500 inhabitants. Hmmm. That’s for not doing your homework!

The next day we start at about 9 AM. Bob the chief rocka drove us in his SUV/4x4 around the property while we put the trash in the trailer attached to the car. Next stop, dropping the rubbish and then fill the trailer with what they call good soil. Actually it was just clay that stood there for ages and was hard as a….
Well, I don’t mind working with picks and spades, but my girlfriend definitely wasn’t used to that kinda work. But we did as we were told to. And no time to breathe or go to toilet or get a glass of water. “Hey we have only two hours and a half,” said the chief. I’ve worked in landscaping for some time and I can tell you that we never worked this fast. Not because we wouldn’t want to, but because it’s just not healthy to work without a pause or hydration, especially under the world famous New Zealand sun.

A surprise awaited us just around the corner. The next day it was burning stuff day. Which means that we burned all the old invoices, files and papers, of course keeping the 30 year old broken folders for future generations to use. And they picked just the right spot to do it – on bare land in front of the trees.
“Don’t you think the forest can catch fire?” Katja asked Bob.

He looked like a wasp stung him in the nuts, like: ”Nah. It’s gonna be all right. Don’t you worry. If that would be Australia we would be in trouble, but New Zealand got good trees, they don’ burn that fast. Plus it’s not that dry here”

“Whatever you say” I go. Although it looked like a damn dessert.

Then we watch the fire that rose like three meters high slightly touching the manuka trees. He puts on more paper and some dry gorse. WOOOOF it goes. We just watch the spectacle skeptical and wait ‘til it would go down. He dontyouworryin’ us again. Meanwhile Angie stops by and whispers in Bob’s ear: ”Hey. Why are they standing around? They don’t do nothing. Get them to work.”

I just think to myself: “What a poor schmuck!” and “What a c**t!”

“You cannot load everything on the fire” Bob goes. “It’s going to be too big. The forest might catch fire.”

“OK, but still. Maybe he can get new folders and she can put stuff on the fire. They can’t just stand around.”

Of course this was a great idea and we finish the day smelling like smoked salmon. When we arrive at the so called base to return the gear, meaning gloves full of holes, they find out that there are still 5 minutes left so we do some other stuff for the next 20 minutes. How do you like that?
In the next few days we got the task to make a forest trail for the customers. What sounded like great, ended up frustrating, when finally Angie interfered. She wanted the trail to go through the swamp. Hmmm…

No problem. There you go. Now the people staying in the Family Park can freely enjoy the moist experience in the beautiful swamp. Just don’t forget to give them gum boots Angie. We stayed for two weeks all together. The 6 member family living there and some other woofers made the stay there enjoyable, but we needed some paid jobs. Where do we go from here? Let’s go to Wellington! We guessed in a big city it’s going to be easier to find a job, more people, more jobs.


Submitted by: Grisa Grauf
Date submitted: 20/12/2011 1:35:37 AM

Apple grading & stacking Fri Jun 8

Grape picking Fri Jun 8

Blueberry picking Fri Jun 8

Hop work in Motueka Tue May 16

Working as an apple packer in Motueka Mon May 9

Working for free accommodation in Wellington Thu Mar 24

From working holiday visa to a resident Thu Mar 24

From the big city to the field of kiwi fruit Thu Mar 24

Working with Kiwi fruit Thu Mar 24

The Christmas rush Mon Feb 29

Packing kiwifruit in Motueka Mon Feb 29

Asparagus picking Mon Feb 29

put on your work clothes, roll up your sleeves and get out there Tue May 27


The Gorilla Hut Sun May 26

Working in sales in NZ Mon May 13

Life as an apple picker Mon May 13

Marahau Sun May 5

hanging nets at isabel vinyard Mon Mar 25

Farm stay Tue Feb 5

Berry-Picking and Ice-Cream Making Tue Dec 18

Vineyard Work in Blenheim Sun Nov 25

Working As A "Milkman" Sat Aug 4

Being an au-pair Thu Aug 2

Grape harvesting in Central Otago Thu Aug 2

Whenever Wed Jun 6

Picking up the oil in Tauranga Mon May 21

Onion grading Sat May 12

Omarama, Place of Light Tue Apr 3

Napier or the job war Sun Apr 1

Some helpful tips Wed Feb 29

Fruit picking in Central Otago Mon Feb 27

Some useful tips Thu Feb 16

Fruit picking in Motueka Wed Jan 18

Where Do We Go From Here Tue Dec 20

Picked it, Packed it, Buggered Off! Tue Dec 20

Seasonal jobs COULD change your very life as you know it Tue Dec 20

I work to live, I don’t live to work Mon Dec 19

I only had $100 to my name Sun Nov 20

Odd Jobs In Central Otago Sun Nov 20

Peach thinning working experience Sun Nov 20

The young vines were frosted over Sun Nov 20

The work found me Sun Nov 20

Working for Watties Factory Mon Oct 24

Working New Zealand from a different perspective Mon Oct 24

I had always been dreaming about coming to New Zealand Mon Oct 24

My first job in vineyards was stripping Mon Oct 24

My happiness was indescribable Tue Oct 18

Working in a Packhouse in Auckland Tue Oct 18

Working on a vineyard in Blenheim Tue Oct 18

Cycling in New Zealand not friendly Tue Oct 18

Fruit Picking Tips for New Zealand Mon Aug 22

Whale and Dolphin Watching Sat Aug 13

Cherry Picking in Central Otago Sat Aug 13

16 Argentinian people living there, it was awesome! Tue Jul 26

No one got payslips, really crazy Sat Jul 23

picked apples at first Sat Jul 23

In 18 months I have worked with kiwi fruits, apples, two epic ski seasons and a travelling carnival Sat Jul 23

cash-in-hand odd jobs Sat Jul 23

A rugby team we’ve beaten twice at the Rugby World Cup? Let’s go teasing them! Sat Jul 23

Talking to strangers about charity Sat Jul 23

Fresh out of college Sat Jul 23

Working trees for $350 per week Sat Jul 23

German Windsurf Instructor in New Zealand Sun Jul 17

Vineyard work in South Island New Zealand Sun Jul 17

We had idea, get visa, sell everything and just go to New Zealand Sun Jul 17


Wilding Pines Sun Jul 17

boss was very nice and friendly Sun May 8

Vintage in Central Otago - Working in the Wine Industry Sun May 8

Mr Apple packhouse experience Mon May 2

North Island Notes Wed Apr 20

Fruitpicking in Napier Wed Apr 20

blueberry harvest season Thu Apr 7

bbq on the beach and if you lucky see some Dolphis too Thu Apr 7

Mate! You are on fire!! Sun Mar 20

The real vineyard work lowdown Fri Mar 11

I had pretty much run out of cash Wed Mar 9

The Land of New Zealand Mon Feb 28

Work in backpackers in exchange for accommodation Sat Feb 26

heard cattle on motorbikes Fri Feb 18

Traditional Maori hangi Thu Feb 17

Fortune Fruit and spitting cherry pits competitions Tue Feb 15

When I got to Whangamata... Sat Feb 12

I could romanticize it… Tue Dec 7

I thought it sounded interesting Tue Dec 7

My New Zealand adventure :) Wed Nov 3

Well I am from Mexico... Mon Oct 25

~New Zealand has no bandits and the relaxed lifestyle is second to none~ Fri May 14

New Zealand's got cheap banks!! Mon Apr 26

Tips from Latvia...yes not Russia ;) Tue Mar 16

First Job Thinning Apples... Mon Mar 1

Damn recession! Wed Feb 10

Loving New Zealand.. Mon Feb 8

From aircrafts to vineyard work in New Zealand.. Mon Feb 8

A Czech in New Zealand.. Fri Feb 5

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