So here I am, installed at Trevelyan’s campsite. Gonna spend six weeks packing kiwis to get some money for my next trip to Asia. I take advantage of my free weekend to meet the other young people living in the house. A dozen people from all over the world (England, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Japan, Peru, Latvia (and France with me)). Some have been there since the beginning of the season (beginning of April), others, like me, just arrived. The place where we live is an old house full of charm but which is very cold. As it is the beginning of the winter, it begins to be damn cold. And despite the possibility of making a fire in the fireplace, it only warms the living room. (Luckily we will be entitled to small electric heaters in the rooms after asking several times).
I also take the opportunity to go cycling in the surrounding area. Visit of Te Puke, the village where Trevelyan’s is located and Papamoa, a long residential area along the bay. At the end is Mount Maunganui, a small hill which once at the top allows to have a nice view on the surroundings. Tauranga, the “big city” of the area, spreads out behind the Mount.
Monday morning I start working. I am assigned to a number and I join the Trayliner team in D1. The work is divided into four sheds: D1 – D2 – D3 – D4 and D5 which is the team that constantly changes sheds and works during the others teams days-off.
Within each team are different positions. The Trayliners take care of opening the boxes, putting plastic inside and sending the boxes to the Packers, on the other side of the line where the Kiwis pass. There are different types of boxes and plastics and you have to be quick I order that the Packers never run out of boxes. The kiwis are then packed into the boxes (the kiwis are always on the line and “fall” at specific moments to be distributed in the different boxes). Packer is also a fast work since the kiwis fall quickly and often in disorder. They put back the kiwis in good position, check that the stickers are present and that there are no kiwis too soft or damaged. Once the kiwis are in the boxes, the Stackers take care of pasting labels and stacking boxes on pallets. At the very beginning of the line are the Graders. They take care of sorting the kiwis by size and also to remove as much as possible the damaged or too soft kiwis. (Other jobs exist such as Quality Control but having not had the opportunity to approach them, I do not know their job in detail).
I spend my first week in D1, in an old shed with somewhat dated equipment. I finished my first day almost unable to move. My back is crumbed and I have a huge torticollis. Since the work is fast and you have to do the same thing all day long, standing up, my body has give up. I wonder, a little worried, how I will be able to survive the next six weeks. Fortunately my body will quickly get used to the repetitiveness of the work. Nothing very difficult in the job, you just have to turn into a robot. Which is mentally quite painful. At least we do nine-hour days, so I get a lot of money back. And we are entitled to free kiwis! (For a month, we will have the golden kiwis, sweet and better taste and then towards the end, the golden harvest being finished, we will be entitled to the green kiwis).
At the end of the first week, the manager tells us that the D1 team is dissolved !! Indeed D1 is open only in case of big amount of kiwis. Apparently the surplus is over and the D1 team is no longer needed. We are put in the other teams. I find myself in D5, the team that constantly changes shed. I’m a bit disappointed to have to leave the friends that I made in D1 but it’s like that. At least, the other sheds are supposed to have more recent equipment. And, good thing, bye bye Daniele, our supervisor Trayliner in D1, who was really not friendly. The D5 Trayliner team is much more pleasant. Everyone is friendly and has fun, even the supervisor, a Maori by the name of T.K. Besides in D5, there is much more Maori than in D1, which is a good opportunity to be able to talk with them.
My six weeks pass very quickly, between boredom and fun. If I get a lot of money back in the first two weeks, I quickly become disillusioned. Due to persistent bad weather and a bad season (due to a rotten summer), Kiwifruit picking in orchards is delayed and the fruit are bad. So the nine-hour days end quite fast. We do half-days and sometimes get 3 days off a week! It’s obvious,, it is not with this work that I will save money for the future. Disappointed, I spend several days thinking about what I am going to do. I do not want to go to Asia with barely $ 3000, it would force me to only be able to stay there for 2 months and to rush everything. So, I decide to go back to Australia with a working holiday visa of 1 year in order to work. The jobs are more paid in Australia than in NZ and this is the opportunity to spend more time in Australia (I had been there before NZ but only 6 weeks which is not very long). So I do the process to get the visa and I start looking for a job. I ended up having a positive response for a 5 months job at the Arkaroola Resort and Wilderness Sanctuary, an outback resort located in the Flinders Ranges (South Australia) in the middle of nowhere! Not much social life but the perfect way to get lots of money in short time. (Since the workplace is in the middle of nowhere, the payroll is higher). So here I am with a whole new plan for the next part of my journey.
Working at Trevelyan’s was also an opportunity to meet a lot of people. As I said above, the D5 Trayliner team is ultra friendly (the whole D5 team is actually super cool). With Misa, Usa, Naoko, Liam, Aurore, Sebastien, Haarana, Jennie, Marie, Laura, Ricky, Piki, Ai, Pablo, Melisa, José, Sora etc, we try to have as much fun as possible during work. Otherwise, we may end up being crazy, doing the same thing all day. Trevelyan’s employees also regularly take pictures and shoot videos. Sometimes the days pass quickly. Sometimes they don’t.
I also take the opportunity to do my last visit in New Zealand: the guided tour of White Island, an active volcanic island located 1h30 by boat from Whakatane (1 hour drive from Te Puke). I go with Lasma, a Latvian who lives in the Trevelyan’s house. The tour is nice but less impressive than I expected. Apart from a protective helmet and a mask to filter the air, no special equipment. Some pretty yellow colors and fumaroles and that’s it. Not very exceptional. Especially since I already saw the geysers in Rotorua and I did the Tongagiro track where the volcanic environment is more impressive. But the visit of White Island nevertheless remains a nice last experience in NZ.
By mid-June, the work at Trevelyan’s is over. We are entitled to thanks speech by the managers and supervisors as well as to the viewing of the video having been shot during the last weeks. Several parties to celebrate the end and my experience at Trevelyan’s is over. Everyone leaves for new adventures. Despite the boring work, I am sad to leave the place and the friends I made. These six weeks have passed too quickly.
Misa, Usa, Naoko and I take a bus to go back to Auckland. I have one week left in New Zealand! I take this opportunity to do shopping, spend time with my friends and change my haircut!
Then the last day arrives, on Tuesday, June 27, and I embark aboard the Spirit of Singapore, a cargo ship going to Sydney. Yes, I decided to do Auckland – Sydney not by plane but by boat. My sinus problem having not been cured and not wishing to experience terrible pain in my skull during the flight, I looked for another solution. And indeed large cargo ships traveling on the sea take passengers! The price is expensive but this is my only way to reach Australia. So I booked a cabin within the Spirit of Singapore to reach Sydney. Three days at sea! A new experience begins! Hello Australia!