Queenstown tourism workers facing tough times because of Covid-19 appear to be pursuing new opportunities in viticulture.

Otago organisations involved in employing grape pickers reported a surge in the number of inquiries from Queenstown last week.

They put it down to a drop in the number of hospitality jobs there.

Central Otago Winegrowers president Nick Paulin said on Friday there seemed to be more people searching for picking work.


"I suspect due to the downturn in tourism and hospitality."

And, Seasonal Solutions chief executive Helen Asby, in Alexandra, supported that theory.

"We're certainly getting calls from people who are losing work in Queenstown.

"It's early days yet and a bit difficult to really quantify.

"But overall, I think there are going to be significant moves to find alternative employment in the district.

"And with the grape harvest coming up, that's going to be of particular interest, at least as a short-term opportunity."

The viticulture industry employs hundreds of people during the picking season including groups from the Pacific Islands, local New Zealanders and backpackers.

Paulin said grapes for sparkling wine were being picked now and the main crop would start to come in over the next month or so, with the season ending in late April or early May, depending on the weather.