Foreign tourists are paying for their New Zealand holiday by filling local labour gaps.
More than 20 foreign tourists are staying at a Timaru motel while they perform seasonal jobs in local factories.
The tourists are mainly employed at Juice Products New Zealand's Washdyke factory and Talley's fish processing plant at the Timaru's port.
Brian Lam, a sales worker from Hong Kong's New Territories, said he and two high school friends had worked on vineyards in Blenheim in June before coming to process fish for Talley's during the busy Hoki season.
Lam, 25, said he had already taken a working holiday in Australia, but the group decided "we're still young so we want to travel more". Word of mouth led them to pick New Zealand as their next destination.
"Many people say New Zealand is more beautiful than Australia, and it's easier to find a job."
Lam said he and his friends preferred working in Talley's fish factory to Blenheim vineyards, where "the work is very hard, cold and you have to start very early". The disadvantage of working with fish was the smell of their uniforms, which they dealt with by keeping them in a separate room.
Lam said he and his friends were looking forward to visiting Queenstown to go bungee jumping and skiing, but were worried the ski season would finish before the hoki season did.
Talley's spokesperson Tony Hazlett said working holidays were a "win-win" for the company and working tourists.
Hazlett said in busy periods like the Hoki season "there are typically more jobs than there are New Zealanders to do them".
He attributed the easing of labour shortages in the industry to schemes such as working holidays and a loosening labour market generally.
- The Timaru Herald