Working for Sanfords in Havelock

My name is Trang, from Vietnam. Havelock is my first destination in working holiday trip. I am attracted immediately to the landscape here with the harbour and so many boats, surrounded by mountains and rivers. Especially, this town is considered as the Mussel Capital of the world. I grew up in Southest Asia and where we don’t have Green Shell Mussels in our country.

Mussels taste terrific!! It should be on the TO-EAT-LIST in New Zealand.

I fell in love with mussels so I applied for the job in the Sanford factory which is one of the biggest factories to provide mussels for the whole country and export.

Actually, there are three types of jobs: work in the chiller, work in the pack house and work in the grading room.

I myself work in the grading room. Honestly, this job brings me a wonderful experience ,that I have never had before. I have learned how the factory works, how many processes there are to finishing the mussel lines.

The factory has two shifts. Morning shift is from 6am to 3:30pm and evening shift is from 4:30pm to 2am. I am in the morning one.

My day always starts at 5am. After making myself ready, I head to the factory which takes me 15 minutes walking from Rutherford Backpackers.


This job basically just doesn’t need any university degree or talent. All I have to do is to pull the mussel beard. Don’t think it is easy as thousands of mussels will run on the line in front of you. There are two lines with 7 graders in a line. Everyone works together and help each other. You have to catch and to pull the beard; one by one. At first, I feel a bit dizzy and can’t even see the beard clearly. Then I get used to it and make it as a speed game. The faster you are, the more beard you can pull. It is fun, but also stressful.


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We have 4 breaks per day: 15 minutes at 8am and 10am; 30 minutes at 12pm and 5 minutes at 2pm. Not to make people crazy about mussels, we are allowed to changed positions in the line every 15 minutes, so we have time to relax our muscle.

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Our cafeteria with a microwave and a warmer

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Our cafeteria with a microwave and a warmer

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Free drink includes milk, hot latte, mocca, hot chocolate, coffee and tea

At the end of the day, I am tired because of standing 9 hours, but I do have fun with new experience and meeting new people. The job is simple but you need to apply effort; however the salary is good, the location is nice. I am happy to spend my first month there.


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Hope you all have nice time like me and don’t forget to taste the mussels.

Enjoy New Zealand. Cheers!

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