About 250 new employees are set to bolster the kiwifruit industry's worker shortage.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) said that since the announcement of the declaration on April 5, about 250 people have successfully applied to vary the conditions of their visitor visas to work in the labour shortage declaration in the Bay of Plenty and extension in Hawke's Bay.

The number is expected to increase sharply over this week. Last week about 230 people successfully applied for a VOC in the Bay of Plenty over the declaration period.

This week marks the beginning of the peak of harvest for the kiwifruit industry in the Bay of Plenty.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated CEO Nikki Johnson. Photo / Supplied
New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated CEO Nikki Johnson. Photo / Supplied

More than 18,000 seasonal workers will be required to pick and pack the iconic piece of kiwiana. The peak is expected to last until the end of May.

NZKGI chief executive Nikki Johnson said, "while we are pleased our attraction campaign has increased the number of visitors who have shown interest to work in the kiwifruit industry, we are likely to require more workers to pick and pack at season peak".

"As a first priority, we are calling on people who live in close proximity to orchards and packhouses to roll up their sleeves and join us in this booming industry."

Those from further afield were recommended to secure accommodation before arriving.

Current estimates put the potential labour shortfall at peak around 3550 the Bay of Plenty's kiwifruit industry.

There was a shortfall of 1200 vacancies at the peak of last year's harvest. The shortage places the current workforce under pressure to pick and pack this year's estimated volume of more than 155 million trays. So far about a quarter has been picked and packed.

Potential employees who would like to find work in the kiwifruit industry can find information around employers, job types and rights on the NZKGI website. Overseas visitors are encouraged to visit the Immigration New Zealand website where detailed information about varying the conditions of a visa can be found.

The Bay of Plenty labour shortage declaration is set to run until May 27.