An urgent need for seasonal workers in Central Otago has prompted the Ministry of Social Development to declare a labour shortage and visa help for visitors who meet criteria.
Growers have told the Ministry that exceptionally warm weather means harvests are ready sooner.
It is the first time the Ministry has declared a seasonal labour shortage this early in the season.
"As always, our first priority is to assist New Zealanders in Central Otago looking for work," Jason Tibble, Southern Regional Commissioner for Social Development, said today.
"However, there are simply not enough people to meet employer demand in the peak of their harvesting season.
"We have exhausted all other sources to find enough workers, including referring local unemployed people and recognised seasonal employer (RSE) workers."
Mr Tibble said visitors who wanted work should contact Immigration New Zealand.
"Any Immigration New Zealand office can assist with labour supply by approving a Variation of Conditions for visitors to New Zealand who already hold visitor permits providing they meet the qualification criteria so they can undertake work in orchards and vineyards."
The seasonal labour shortage had been declared for the six weeks from 12 December 2017 to 20 January 2018.
However should conditions change, the Ministry would review the continuation of the labour shortage declaration.