Chasing Verasion: How to Work Wine Harvest in New Zealand
The first thing to know for Chasing New Zealand Verasion is that harvest is in the spring, or is it fall? Ok let’s keep this universal and say ‘New Zealand’s wine harvest happens in or around February-May.’
Harvest in New Zealand, or anywhere in the southern hemisphere, is another way to get great experience and a different perspective, especially if you had worked harvest in the northern hemisphere exactly prior to that. Hopefully you’ve saved up enough money to travel and get to your destination, sold your car to afford your next plane ticket and you’re off to another adventure, new land, different wines, more great friends to make.
There are a couple ways to go about working harvest. If you want to do more than “pick,” the best thing to do is, as early as possible send applications to wineries. Some wineries book interns up to a year in advance. Study the regions. Know where you want to work and why and say so in your letter. Do send a letter.
Wine Jobs Online will get you going in the right direction of how to apply, job listings as well as provide general news on New Zealand’s wine industry.
Regions – There are eight (major regions). They are, relatively, from north to south
Do a little research and find out which area interests you. New Zealand grows a lot of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but did you also know they grow Syrah, Cabernet and Viognier? The latitude and climate in the Northland wine region, the very top of the North Island, is ideal for these warm weather varietals. Conversely, Central Otago, at the southern tip of the South Island, is much cooler and known for Pinot Noir, Riesling and Chardonnay. If you’d like to focus on certain varietals rather than others, find out on which side of the islands you need to be. A great resource is New Zealand Wine website http://www.nzwine.com/
Planning – Central Otago is the southernmost winegrowing region in the world. With a cooler climate, they grow the according varietals. The northern part of the North Island starts harvest much earlier as the climate is much warmer. Know when you need to be there and plan your in-between adventures accordingly.
Types of Visas
New Zealand is pretty flexible when it comes to work visas, especially if you’re under 30. Start here at the New Zealand Immigration website. Regardless of your age, you can apply online, for a 12-month visa. There are some restrictions so check the requirements to be sure you qualify and you can do a quick check here. If you’re between 18 and 30 years old and want to work there, you can apply and then find a harvest gig. This visa is great because it doesn’t limit you to that one job. You can come and go from different places of work without worrying about running out of cash while you travel.
Make sure to allow time for visa processing. Our’s took about a month.
The cost to apply and receive a visa depends on your country of origin. You can check the costs here.
At the NZ Immigration website, you can create a user name and password to apply online
Once you’re registered, you can access all forms necessary online.
Make sure you have a good chunk of change before you head there, around $4200 NZ dollars to cover living costs, car to share if needed, etc.
You’ll be prompted, by your employer probably, to fill out a form to receive an IRD number from New Zealand Inland Revenue Department (which is essentially a Social Security Number for you Americans reading this). You may get this form at your place of work or find it at the Post Office, where we were also able to open a bank account. You’ll receive your IRD number in a little over a week. This is your tax number as well, so your employer will also need it asap. If you’re on a working holiday in New Zealand, they’ll collect taxes as you work, so at the end, or the next year, there shouldn’t be a refund (darn!), nor should you owe anything. But this is convenient if you’re country-hopping.
Well, as they say, Bob’s your uncle so grab your gumboots and jandals, travel safe, and when you get there be sure to fill your chillybin with some savvy, throw it in the boot and head to the beach so you can enjoy the beach before the hard work beings. See ya later.