Auckland Expat Jobs on the Road New Zealand Oceania Travel Tips

Strawberry Sales in Kiwiland

When backpacking around the world, you may find yourself short of cash and in need of a job. During my travels, I have had a few unusual jobs. I am going to share with you  in a new little series called;

‘ Jobs on the Road’


Selling Strawberries up and down the North Island, New Zealand


When I arrived in Auckland, my bank balance was extremely low. I was lucky to get a job in a hostel that gave free accommodation while I looked for work. I got a job in a cafe and a clothes shop, and continued to work in the hostel. But even with two part time jobs and working for accommodation, saving money in Auckland was still really hard, and I wasn’t loving having three jobs at once.

Then, the opportunity arose to sell strawberries. Other people in the hostel were doing it and claimed there was money to be made.
selling strawberries new zealand jobs on the road


This was something I never thought I would do, as I never thought of myself as a salesperson. But I decided to give it a go on my day off.


My first day as a strawberry seller started really, really early. Like, too early. I was passing people on the hostel stairs who were still up from the night before, and their messy drunkenness only highlighted how weird it was to be awake and sober at that hour.


 The group of strawberry sellers from the hostel waited outside in the dark to be picked up. We piled into two cars and drove to pick up the strawberries. Outside a warehouse-sized fridge in the scarce pre-dawn light, we loaded crates of strawberries into the car until there was barely room for us to get in. The car became a Mary Poppin’s bag for strawberry storage. Just when I thought there was no way we could fit another crate in, the boss just kept stuffing more and more in.


The person in the middle seat (who turned out to always, always be me!) had a wobbling tower of strawberry crates next to them that reached the ceiling. They strained against their ropes and threatened to crush me at every turn. They really poked into my arms as well and I was usually left with a scattering of bruises by the end of the drive.


On my first day, I was with the manager and his girlfriend. They were really nice but I was really tired and the only opportunity to get a coffee was the coffee milk that New Zealanders love. It is delicious, but doesn’t pack the same punch as an espresso, so I failed to fully wake up for quite some time. We drove for ages and the gorgeous New Zealand scenery made up for the early hour.


When we reached the first town, I was told to get out and grab a crate and take one side of the road.


I was scared!


I am naturally very shy and awkward, so lugging a crate of strawberries into an office was terrifying!


I think the fact that I was red-faced and struggling to get in the door worked to my advantage. The people were so nice and friendly and willing to buy.


I think friendly Kiwis + delicious strawberries = a win.


When I reached the end of the road I was bursting with pride, I had sold all my strawberries and was feeling more confident.


On that first day, we took off from Auckland and drove to so many gorgeous places around the North Island. At that stage, I had only been to Auckland, so I was grateful for this free tour of the amazing countryside. I couldn’t believe how gorgeous it was.

pretty new zealand scenery

By the end of the day I was exhausted, but I had seen more of New Zealand than I ever thought was possible in a day, and I had a sweet lump of cash in my pocket.


The next few days were even better. I realised there was a Mc Donalds right by the strawberry farm, and so I started a new habit of going to the bathroom there and conveniently picking up a breakfast and a large coffee on the way. That much needed shot of caffeine and a big feed was exactly what I needed to start the day.


I got a great insight into how New Zealanders live. When you are darting from hairdressers to lawyer’s offices to antique shops you really get to see a variety of people in their working environments. I loved going to to all the tiny towns and admiring the architecture and character. It proved what I already knew, that New Zealanders are the nicest people ever! Seriously though, everyone was so friendly and nice.


It was the start of the New Zealand summer so it felt so nice to be out in the sun and earning money.

north island new zealand

 However, strawberry selling is not for everyone. My friend A started and wasn’t much of a fan. On her first day she was with me and we went to a big town. We were sent to the main shopping street, which was packed with people shopping. We had to hurry around, carting wobbly trolleys piled with crates of strawberries stacked precariously and held with a piece of rope. As soon as we got out of the car, my rope snapped, which didn’t fill A or me with confidence.


We had to go into each shop on the street, and it seemed like the street was never-ending.  The amount of people shopping made getting in and out of doors even harder than before.


A was then stationed at a low wall to catch people as they passed. She was lucky because she didn’t have to lug her trolley around, but it was a little embarrassing as she was meant to be calling out ‘Fresh strawberries for sale!’ She was feeling pretty miserable after a while.


At the start of each day of strawberry sales, everyone has a rough number of strawberry crates to sell. When I was working with the couple, they would fill the car with as many as possible and then she and I would split them, then the boss would do a few himself.


But, if you are in a car where you haven’t managed to sell many strawberries, then technically you have to sell them, as they will be ruined by the end of the day. So, on A’s next day, she and her friend were put with a different group. They had a bad day, and they had a lot of crates left between them. They hadn’t made any money either. So, by the time they got back to the city, they had to resort to selling them on Queens Street, Auckland’s main street!


At this stage, she was feeling tired and fed up, and she had a lot of strawberries to get rid of. I was on a day off, so I came to help and it was really tough. People rushing home from work aren’t as willing to stop and buy strawberries, especially as we weren’t doing a great job of convincing them. There was a big difference in standing on the main street in Auckland and popping into country businesses, where people are willing to stop and have a chat with you.


After a while, a guy from the Council came over, and it turns out you can’t even sell strawberries without a permit. So we had to move along, and ended up down by the harbour, where all the fancy restaurants are, trying to flog rapidly deteriorating strawberries for a quarter of the original price.

It was a disaster!

By the end of it all, both girls were nearly hysterical, and never wanted to see a strawberry again!

Here I am struggling to carry my crate, eyes still half closed in the early morning!

Here I am struggling to carry my crate, eyes still half closed in the early morning!

Selling strawberries is hard work and the days are long, and if you have zero upper arm strength like me, then the first few days will be a struggle, but if you are looking to make money when in New Zealand, then I would definitely recommend it to anyone. You get paid in cash everyday, more than you would in a cafe or shop, and you get to see a lot of gorgeous New Zealand for free! It’s win win!


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  • Reply
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels
    August 6, 2014 at 11:54 am

    This was such an interesting read! I love strawberries and totally would buy some from you :p I think I need a part time job here in India, the problem is the pay is soooooooo low, like unbearable.
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted…Just your average “monkey babysitting” dayMy Profile

    • Reply
      August 8, 2014 at 1:54 pm

      Aw thanks Rachel! 🙂 I can imagine it would be hard to work for such little money, especially as you would be missing out on free time to enjoy Goa! Hopefully your massage job picks up when the season starts! 🙂

  • Reply
    August 6, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Hi Michele – what really impressed me about this post is that you took a problem and turned it into an opportunity. Way to go. Talking to the locals probably gave you a more complete picture of life in New Zealand that you could have had as a tourist for a year. Love the gorgeous scenery. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    August 6, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Christine, I apologize for calling you Michele – realized it as soon as I had posted the comment.
    Lenie recently posted…Culinary, Cosmetic, Antiseptic and More…..BASIL Does It All.My Profile

    • Reply
      August 8, 2014 at 1:55 pm

      Haha Lenie, don’t worry about it! 🙂

  • Reply
    August 6, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    Good for you Christine as that is a hard slog. When I was a teenager I would head out at that ridiculously early hour to pick strawberries. I think I lasted only a few days as it is back-breaking work and kudos to those who can do it. Glad you enjoyed NZ; it is a gorgeous country and I miss it.
    Tim recently posted…Disappearing LisaMy Profile

    • Reply
      August 9, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      I’d say picking the strawberries is a lot harder than selling them, I don’t think I’d be very good at that! I love NZ so much, writing this post made me really sad, to be honest. I haven’t even written anything about it, so I have a lot of photos and memories to sift through, which will be kind of hard, as it is such a beautiful country, and everyone is so nice. I would love to go back for a visit, but the flights are just so expensive.
      Christine recently posted…How to do Hong Kong on a Budget- SightseeingMy Profile

  • Reply
    Pamela Heady
    August 6, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    I wish someone had come around when I was working and offered to sell me fresh strawberries! In Texas it was usually Hispanic men or women selling their freshly made tamales, which can be utilized as a good breakfast! I think it’s pretty cool that you ventured into an endeavor you wouldn’t have normally chosen. The rewards ended up being plenty and the story to tell is as rewarding for us readers! New Zealand looks beautiful too!
    Pamela Heady recently posted…Celebrating National Farmers Market Week!My Profile

  • Reply
    Ken Dowell
    August 7, 2014 at 3:02 am

    I think I’d kind of like to be sitting in an office and have someone come and sell me a container of strawberries. That does not mean I’d want to be the one hauling the crate into the office building. Not sure I would have been as successful with this endeavor as you were.
    Ken Dowell recently posted…Digital Deception: Is Uncle Sam a Hacker?My Profile

  • Reply
    Mina A Joshi
    August 7, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Hats off to you to look on the positive side whilst selling strawberries. You made it sound like fun.

  • Reply
    Valerie Remy-Milora
    August 8, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    I LOVE strawberries but I’m not sure I’d be eager to sell them.. then again if you’re traveling around the world it seems like a decent way to pay for what you love. It sounds like you had some great experiences, especially that first day! Love that you gave it a fair shot and stuck it our when it wasn’t so grand 🙂
    Valerie Remy-Milora recently posted…Quinoa, My Favorite Whole Grain, And A Chance to Win A $400 GCMy Profile

  • Reply
    Laurie Hurley
    August 8, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    Did you know I live 5 miles from the strawberry capital of the US – Camarillo, CA? On a windy day I can smell strawberries and I don’t even like them! Think of the awesome arm muscles you are building lugging around your fruit and getting to see one of the most beautiful parts of the world. Great story and thanks for sharing it with us!
    Laurie Hurley recently posted…7 Ways To Respect Your Social Media Marketing ManagerMy Profile

  • Reply
    maxwell ivey
    August 8, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    Hi Christine; what a great story. thanks for sharing it with us. I want to travel for my business, but being a totally blind person; I’m still working out all the details. would love to find someone to go with who has experience or at least a valid license. 🙂 also, don’t know that I’d be able to earn my keep like you did if it came to it. I did grow up in a family of carnival owners so I have had to rough it and am not a stranger to hard dirty work. but I’d rather travel by plane and stay in nice motels than back pack and sleep at hostels. Looking forward to your next story, Max
    maxwell ivey recently posted…honored with guest post successfully migrated to word press and won OBSS contest 3rd prizeMy Profile

  • Reply
    August 8, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    Thanks for sharing your strawberry story. I love strawberries and I love NZ too, but I’ve never been there 😉 It’s true how delicate they are. The ones grown naturally and on a smaller scale are so much better than that comes from supermarkets. I have an 6×3 garden bed just for strawberries and I will eat so many of them as they ripen.
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  • Reply
    Niekka McDonald
    August 9, 2014 at 2:09 am

    You experiences make for good stories 🙂 I love strawberries but I think by the time the day was over and I didn’t sell anything and had to lug them around, I might not want to see them either. Even though this was hard for you to do I really like how you where willing to do what was necessary so you can live there. That speaks volumes.
    Niekka McDonald recently posted…Making AdjustmentsMy Profile

  • Reply
    August 9, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    Sounds like you are having a great time with strawberries and “Kiwis”. Enjoy!! The world is an interesting place that it becomes more and more important to discover. Try to spend time, work and integrate in countries with cultures different from our own. Have found that doing so has benefitted me enormously. Far too many people believe they understand a culture because they integrate with people from there on social media. Wish it was that simple:-)
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  • Reply
    August 9, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Wow, I think I have a new dream job! Is it a common thing in New Zealand then, to have someone come round the office with strawberries? I’d love that, they should do it everywhere. I’m sure it’s a lot of hard work, but it also sounds like a lot of fun meeting loads of new people and driving around seeing the sights.

    I worked on a fish counter once, and literally my number one reason for leaving was the smell. It got all over your clothes, your hands, your hair…bleurgh. So working with fresh strawberries would be a nice change!
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  • Reply
    August 10, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    I love your positive attitude towards the adventure. I imagine selling strawberries would be hard work and I can see why it would be way easier in the country. I imagine that was a great way to get to know the country, see the sites and meet the locals. I had a door to door job when I was 17 that sounded kind of like that. I did it for 2 weeks and I was done. Kudos to you for sticking wit it!

  • Reply
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