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Published: January 5th 2018
We stuck at it in the vineyards until the 2nd week but had heard from other travellers that there were better jobs to be found. Plus we wanted to find somewhere where we could park and live on site rather than travelling around different sites using all of our fuel. So off to the library we went to scope out some more options. By midday the following day we had offers from a hop farm and a dairy farm. The hop farm won our allegiance though as we could stay on site (plus the option of free beer) so off we trotted to Motueka.
We arrived later than evening to meet our new self proclaimed dickhead boss. His name was Kem and began telling us his story of how he used to grow Blackcurrents to Ribena but they turned out to be “c**ts” so started hops instead. The farm was definitely a working one. It had old pieces of machinery that had rusted and seen better days, a workshop full of every DIYers dream tools with the whole land being very dusty and had an almost ‘Mad Max’ feel about it.
The next day we got to work bright an early for our 8am start and soon wondered if we jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. We received very thorough instructions of how to use a push hoe and were left to our own devices for a while. When Kem returned he found us chatting to some other German lads who were working there and then told us off for waiting for him and wasting time (even though he had told us to wait for him). Well he did say he was a dickhead.
The next week of work was pretty much Jack hoeing all day every day, hard work with the hard rocky ground and Char was training the plants along the string to make sure it grows properly. Although the work was harder than the vineyards, staying on the farm was great and the people we were working with were lovely. We carved out a great little campsite for ourselves just round the back of the farm next to a creek. We made a table out of an old apple cart and some MDF and even dug out the creek and made a bathroom for ourselves! Well it was more of a lagoon we thought but it went so well that most of the other workers who were camping ended up using it too and affectionately names it “Char and Jacks ensuite”. The farm also had a lake/reservoir that was awesome to swim in after a hot day at work with a few beers. On the weekends we weren’t working we went to Kaiteriteri beach, had bbqs with some other workers (Rachel, Brad and Grace) a few evenings and generally chilled out.
After a week or so with working for Kem the hours were slowly reducing and he told us that it would be worth looking for another job if we wanted more. So a day later we got a job in an Orchard ‘apple thinning’ (basically thinning the apples off the trees so they wouldn’t fall over). Obviously now we had a problem with accommodation, we weren’t working at the farm but still wanted to stay there for free. Thankfully Kem seemed to have a soft spot for us and we worked out a deal which meant us working an odd evening or weekend for Kem (still paid) and stocking up the beer fridge in return for still staying - result!
The Orchard work was so refreshing. They were very chilled and our supervisor Jackie very friendly. They even told us on a regular basis “good job” which we hadn’t heard the past week from Kem. On the weekends we hung out with Brad, Grace and Rachel. Heading to the beaches again, picking mussels from the sea then cooking them up that evening with a few more beers etc. One weekend we headed for ‘Riwaka Resurgence’ which was a natural spring from under a cave in the mountains with the most crystal clear water we’ve seen. We braved a swim even though the water was FREEZING and then decided that the sea was far more hospitable so swam there instead.
As the work was coming to a close because of Christmas there were a few more workers at the farm to help out. Kem tried to poach us by offering more money than the Orchards but we weren’t tempted as we knew how good we got it at the Apples.
There was a German Dom and Aussie Aaron who were camping. Another American couple Alex and Melissa as well as a Czech couple Veronica and George all staying on the farm. We had a few bbqs together with a camp fire chatting and mostly bitching about Arsehole Kem - good times!
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