Packhouse Worker Kaimahi Whare Putunga

Packhouse workers grade, pack and store fruit, vegetables and other produce in packhouses.

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Packhouse workers may do some or all of the following:

  • grade, pack and store produce according to market requirements
  • assemble packaging and crates
  • stack crates using forklifts
  • check the quality of produce
  • follow food, health and safety regulations
  • maintain equipment and machinery.

Physical Requirements

Packhouse workers need to be reasonably fit as they may lift heavy boxes and stand on their feet all day.

Useful Experience

Useful experience includes:

  • work in orchards or market gardens
  • forklift driving
  • production line work.

Personal Qualities

Packhouse workers need to be:

  • efficient and methodical
  • reliable and punctual
  • accurate, with an eye for detail
  • able to work as part of a team
  • able to follow instructions
  • able to work well under pressure.


Packhouse workers need to have knowledge of:

  • grading, packing and storing produce
  • quality standards for produce
  • health, safety, and food laws and processes.


Packhouse workers:

  • work regular business hours in the off-season, but usually do shift work and extra hours during the harvest season
  • work in packhouses and warehouses
  • may have to travel to follow the work as the seasons and harvests change.

Subject Recommendations

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a packhouse worker. However, agricultural and horticultural science is useful.

Year 11-12 learners can find out more about the horticulture industry and earn unit standards towards a New Zealand Certificate in Agriculture or Horticulture (Level 1 or 2) with the Trades Academy.

Year 12-13 learners can find out more about the horticulture industry and earn NCEA unit standards through the Primary ITO Gateway programme.

Packhouse Workers can earn around $23-$25 per hour.

Pay for packhouse workers varies depending on what they do and where they work.

  • New packhouse workers usually start on the minimum wage.
  • Packhouse workers can earn up to $25 an hour.

Sources: Horticulture New Zealand, 2019; and Pick NZ, 2019.

Packhouse workers may move into forklift operator, shift supervisor or manager roles, or work in logistics (co-ordinating transport of goods).

Packhouse workers may specialise in a number of roles, including:

Graders sort fruit, vegetables and other produce in order of size, type, colour and quality.
Labellers put labels on fruit, vegetables and other produce for export. 
Packers fill trays and crates and check the quality and presentation of produce.
Post-harvest Quality Controller
Post-harvest quality controllers take samples of produce to check their size, colour and quality.
Stackers stack packed boxes of produce in a way that ensures they do not get damaged.
Strappers tape and wrap boxes and crates of produce.
Tray Prep
Tray preps assemble packaging, crates and trays ready to be filled with produce.

Years Of Training

There are no specific entry requirements to become a packhouse worker. However, horticultural knowledge or experience is useful.

Some employers support packhouse workers to gain horticulture qualifications on the job.

The Primary ITO offers fruit and vegetable production courses and apprenticeships.

Some employers may require you to have a a heavy truck driving licence, or forklift licence.

Packhouse Worker