The first kiwifruit export shipment of the 2012 season is on its way to Japan.
Zespri says 800,000 trays of gold kiwifruit left the Port of Tauranga on Tuesday.
The harvest began in Poverty Bay in mid-March and is now underway on orchards in Hawke's Bay and Bay of Plenty.
Over the next eight months, Zespri expects to send the majority of the crop to key markets in Asia and Europe.
However, Zespri expects production this season to be down by 20 million trays, with the gold crop reduced by a third due to the effects of the PSA bacterial disease.
The company expects gold production to fall further in the 2013 season as diseased vines are replaced with new gold varieties showing some resistance to the disease
Nelson harvest prospects
Meanwhile, Nelson's 50 kiwifruit growers are expecting a better gold harvest than their North Island counterparts with production of the gold variety showing a small increase to 550,000 trays.
Mainland Kiwifruit Growers says it has been a good growing season in the region for both the green and gold fruit, with not much wind and good quality fruit.
Chairman Rod Fry says green kiwifruit remain the predominant variety in Nelson, but growers have been gradually introducing the gold variety in recent years and are now testing the new gold varieties that show resistance to PSA to see how they grow in the Nelson climate.
The Nelson kiwifruit harvest is due to begin in three weeks.