When we arrived in Nelson we were just about out of money and in desperate need of some more supplies to continue travelling on the bikes. It was time again to find a job…. But where to start? We first tried calling orchards and farms to look for some seasonal work. We called about 25 different numbers but not one of them lead to employment. The next avenue of possibility was to print out stacks of CVs (updating them first) and hand them into every bar, pub and restaurant in town. This also lead to nothing, not one call back, not one trial, nothing. We got a call from some of the guys that we worked with in Hastings asking if it was easy to find work in Nelson. Even though we had found nothing yet we told them to come anyways.
After almost a week I finally got the break I was looking for. I got talking to a German guy in the hostel and he told me to try out the work agencies around town. The work agencies find you labouring jobs on a temporary or casual basis which can sometimes lead to full-time work. I applied to four agencies and two of them had work for me straight away.
The first job I got along with Tomas, Young Gyu and Wonman (the guys from Hastings) was working on the Talleys fishing boat unloading the tanks at the dock. This was a tough job but I really liked it. It involved working in 12 hour shifts where we either had to unload frozen boxes or wet fish. The frozen boxes were held in a freezer where the temperature was -30°C and weighed 27 kgs and the wet fish (Tuna) were in 5m deep tanks and by the time you got to the bottom you were covered head to toe in guts. This job only lasted a week but we could have stayed on longer if we wanted. Due to the terrible pay of this job though we decided to look for something else.
The second job I got was through an agency called Tempz. They lined up work for me and another guy named Chris at the Nelson hospital as trades assistants for the maintenance team. Initially the work was only to last for a week, where we serviced a large coal furnace that heated the water for the hospital, but we did such a good job that they kept us on for a further seven weeks.
Working at the hospital was a great experience. During my time there I got to do a lot of different jobs that allowed me to get a really good look at the inner workings of the hospital. We spent a week doing compliance checks on all the hot water taps in the building. This gained us access to every ward and we got to meet every patient in the hospital (except for the ones in quarantine). Other times we had work that involved being in the basement, plant rooms or on the roof. At one stage I found myself inside the ventilation duct cleaning a filter, or I had to check the hot water in the autopsy room and another time had to unblock the sump in the surgical theater that was full of guts and bone fragments. Working in the hospital was something totally different for me, but it was one of the best experiences I’ve had in New Zealand and I was sad to leave.
Work for girls was harder to find. Jasmin didn’t find a job until I had already worked a couple of weeks at the hospital. During this time we moved into a working hostel called The Custom House where Jasmin, Tomas, Young Gyu and Wonman got work through some German guys that were working on an Orchard. It was a good start but the work only lasted three weeks and they were back on the job hunt again. Luckily they were able to get a contact through some other people at the hostel and started work shortly after on a vegetable farm.
When I finished at the hospital I went and joined Jasmin to work on the vegetable farm. She had been there for two weeks already and we stayed there for a further seven weeks. The work on the farm was good but the days were long and hard (and sometimes monotonous).Nevertheless the long hours we put in ment the opportunity to make money was quite good.
Jasmin worked in the shed where she would wash and pack vegetables mostly silverbeet, spinach, leek, broccoli and celery. Sometimes though, if the planting crew needed a hand she would head off with them. As for me, I had the pleasure of working in the onion shed. The onion shed didn’t have any windows so it was hard to tell if it was night or day, It was also very cold so I almost always had to keep a coat on. My job was to stand in front of the conveyor belt that graded the onions into different sizes and then vomited them down shoots into the appropriate creates which I had to replace once they were full. It was also very dusty in there and each day after work I would blow a black gunk out of my nose. On paper this job sounds terrible and forgive my description if it sounds a bit gloomy but I did actually like this job. The company was good and every smoko (what they call a break time in NZ) we got to sit outside and enjoy the view of the impressive Arthur’s Ranges which some days were covered in snow.
The short time we were ment to stay in Nelson turned into weeks and then the weeks turned into months but Nelson treated us very and we felt very welcomed by the people there. The Custom House became our home and the people there became our family. All the work we did together, all the evenings in the gym, all the hussel and bussel in the kitchen, all the games of table tennis, all the movies on the big screen and all the crazy Saturday nights will not be forgotten anytime soon.
Also not forgotten is the American we met by chance in a bakery. He really helped us out by selling us some of his camping gear and over several Stefano’s Pizzas he ultimately became our friend. Thank you William, we hope to come and visit you in New York someday soon.
A weekend in Ruby Bay
Our Room Mates