After the busy summer and autumn seasons, where so much delicious fruit is picked, the winter months are a much quieter time for orchards and vineyards around New Zealand. However, there are still opportunities for work. Be prepared for some cold starts to the day. Think of warm socks, waterproof boots, and lots of layers. The further south you venture for work, the colder it will be.

Winter work can often lead to continued work opportunities in the summer months. Some travelers have found themselves working all year round in a vineyard, but taking a few weeks off here and there for some traveling and road-tripping if there is a bit of a lull in the work to be done.

1. Pruning

Pruning involves cutting away any of the vines that are not required for the upcoming season. If this did not take place, the vines would simply keep growing rather wildly. Pruning helps the vines to grow again at the start of each season with new energy.

Some vineyards will undertake something called pre-pruning, which is stripping the trunk of the vines of any growth and creating an easier environment for the pruning to take place in the subsequent months.

Once the pruning is completed, then the canes can be wrapped.

You may notice fires occurring in the vineyards around this time. This is the burning of the pruned vines and other debris from around the vineyard.

2. Wrapping

Simply put, wrapping vines involves twining the vine canes along the wires. It is important that this job is completed before something called ‘bud burst’. When the bud has burst on the cane, this represents a bunch of grapes that will grow over the next 6 months. It tends to occur in August and September, so there is pressure to complete this wrapping beforehand.

3. Bud Rubbing

Stray shots can begin to grow, usually from the base of the vine, and these need to be removed by hand. This can be back-breaking work but is made easier if completed when the shoots are young. A brush or metal butcher’s glove will assist in this job.

4. Pack-house work

Working in pack houses is a popular option for short-term work for travelers over the winter months. Kiwifruit is picked and taken to the pack houses for grading and packing. The kiwifruit picking season starts in March and lasts until around June each year.

If you have a forklift license, you could find yourself on wheels in winter in one of the many pack houses in the Bay of Plenty.

5. Ski Season

Of course, the slopes are an obvious option when you think about winter and seasonal work in New Zealand. There are a number of ski resorts varying in size that will have vacancies for staff on the slopes. As well as this many of the small towns near the ski fields will be looking for hospitality staff to man the restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, and ski rental shops. Popular towns include Wanaka, Queenstown, Methven, Hanmer Springs, Ohakune, and National Park Village.

6. Office Work

Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington are all regularly advertising for staff for temporary positions. The work can include data entry, reception, executive and personal assisting as well as a myriad of other office tasks. It is worth checking out sites like Seek or Trade Me.

Backpacker website to find a job

Check out the following popular websites for listings:

Be Prepared

Outdoor work over the winter months can be very cold, especially in the mornings, so invest in some warm clothes (layering works a treat). We recommend keeping your head, feet, and core as warm as possible.


Often, some jobs will require you to have your own transportation. So if you haven’t bought a car yet and think you would like to, check out our guide of 12 Tips for Buying a Campervan in New Zealand.

Carpooling in New Zealand is also a popular option, you can find a travel companion by advertising where you need to go on multiple Facebook groups for backpackers in New Zealand.