Summer Holidays And Fishing for Wild Food By The Sea

Countdown to Christmas and summer break (for most of us) is SO very close now. It’s time for delicious feasts with family and friends and enjoying the outdoors. Most kiwis will naturally head to some form of water, be it lakes, rivers or the sea and food gathering at this time of year is fairly normal for us all, be it fishing, paua, crayfish, trout/ salmon.

This weekend past, I got a group of friends from all over the world now living in various parts of NZ and we congregated in Kaikoura to celebrate, catch up and to use the voucher from Rodfather Fishing Charters Kaikoura, .  These guys are fantastic sponsors of the LWFC here in North Canterbury and there will be more up for grabs in February.  Amy Farnsworth and Nao Kumimi won ‘best from the sea’ in the first North Canterbury Local Wild Food Challenge with their delicious Wild Pipi dish and sourdough yeast bread to mop up the juices.

So we decided it was a great opportunity to hire the Rodfather and go on a fishing charter!  Six of us headed down to the wharf at 5am on Sunday morning to meet Anton and Steve.  Steve was our skipper for the day and he was fantastic (very patient!) First we hauled up the cray pots and counted how many and checked the size of what was legal to keep (we got 16 crays all up – lucky us!)  After dropping one of the team back to shore we headed out in search of Groper/ Hapuka.  It wasn’t too rough, but a good swell and current running opposite to the northerly made it difficult for a couple of the girls to find their sea legs so we ended up with only three of us fishing.  We did however haul up three delicious hapuka/groper to take home.  Outi got the biggest fish of the day, an enormous hapuka event the skipper Steve was impressed.


After we got our hapuka we headed to a couple more spots to get a few tasty perch (an underrated delight from sea!) and we managed to land a couple of decent blue cod to top it of.

After we divided up our catch and had a quick last stop at the Kaikoura cheese shop  to top up our Christmas supplies..  By the way these guys are coming to the 2016 LWFC at Pegasus Bay on February 19th!  Amazing cheeses and we enjoyed rather large cheese plates for several meals over the course of the weekend.  The shop is open 7 days so totally stop in when your next in Kaikoura! The Canterbury Cheesemongers also have these available in the Christchurch.

The time came to go our own ways and we had to depart Kaikoura.  However, I lingered in one of the southern bays as the water was irresistibly calm and clear despite the recent southerly system.  I was contemplating getting in when I met Graham and his partner Claire from Northland travelling the South Island.  Graham suggested we buddy up and since my family and friends dislike me diving solo this was a perfect opportunity to get in the water!  It was such a good dive (fairly warm for Kaikoura!) and we both walked away with half a dozen beautifully sized paua for our dinner tables!




A perfect weekend in my books!  Have a safe and happy festive summer break out there.  A good time to practise a few dishes for the upcoming Local Wild Food Challenge at Pegasus Bay Winery, Friday 19th February from 2pm (:  Any enquires ask away!




Mussel Man – Cooking Up Tasty Wild Food

If Bantry, Co Cork, in the republic of Ireland and Havelock, in Malborough, New Zealand aren’t twin towns, I reckon they should be.

Both are nestled into deep inlets, protected from the rugged surf pounded coast.

And both places are mussel towns.

I am a huge mussel fan, in all its different family forms and tastes.

Atlantic Black mussels in spicy tomato and chorizo broth or served ‘moules frites’ style with a cold beer or beaker of rose is a must for anyone who enjoys a real taste of the ocean.

Equally, the Green Lipped mussel of New Zealand, is an inexpensive treat, readily available from supermarkets throughout the country.

Greenlips take brilliantly to smoking, marinating, grilling on the barbie and of course steaming in just about any broth.

Havelock is Greenlip country, with mussel farms dotted throughout the crystal waters of the sound and a good place to stop on the road from the interisland ferry to Nelson on the north west coast of the island.

Little places specializing in steaming bowls of fragrant Green Lipped mussels are great to stop at, usually featuring Forrest Gump script-like menus:

Mussels with coriander, chillies & lemongrass

Mussels in white wine and garlic

Mussels with tomatoes and oregano

Mussels with………

Exactly the way it should be in a town passionate about mussels!

I can’t get enough of these sorts of simple preparations celebrating the humble mollusk.

Havelock even has a festival in honor of its most famous inhabitants.

Celebrating the Greenlips  Atlantic cousin, is something the locals in Bantry, Ireland do very well too.

On a surf and paragliding trip to the emerald isles’ west coast a few years ago, we stumbled across a really cracking festival. It was the Murphys & Mussel fair in the beautiful Co Cork town of Bantry.

The locals were celebrating their very fortunate position of being in an absolutely beautiful part of the world, surrounded by an abundance of sweet Black Atlantic mussels and creamy stout beer.

Music was coming from every pub, all of them packed with revelers.

A street fair with craft stands, buskers, fairground rides and mussel paraphernalia covered the town center.

Every pint of Murphys stout was served with a heaped bowl of  steamed Bantry mussels and a huge smile.

Our crew of six hungry, thirsty, slightly feral surfers dived out of the van and found ourselves in a dream of great seafood, tasty beer and wonderful Irish hospitality.

I can’t wait to return!


As a wild food the mussel is easy to harvest, as they cling to rocks close to shore and can be simply pulled off and bagged.

Give them a quick clean and they are ready to cook.

Here are a couple of recipes to try. Very easy and low cost.


I encourage people to use this wonderful sustainable source of high protein seafood.


Green Lip Mussels with White Wine and Garlic.



1.5 kgs live Greenlips

1  onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups of white wine

2 tablespoons of butter

½ a cup of chopped parsley

2 tablespoons xvo


Heat heavy based pot, add oil and butter.

Add onion sauté.

Add garlic, cook for 1 minute.

Then add the mussels and the wine, place lid over immediately.

Cook until mussels open, shaking the pot now and then. Discard any that don’t open.

Throw in the parsley and serve in deep bowls with crusty bread for mopping.


Black Atlantic Mussels with Spicy Tomato Chorizo Broth.


1.5 kgs cleaned black mussels

1 yellow onion – chopped

5 cloves garlic – minced

½ cup rose or white wine

1 spicy chorizo sausage – chopped

¼ cup oregano – chopped 

2 cups whole peeled tomatoes – chopped (pre prepared marinara works too)

In a heavy pan or Le Cruset Pot over med/high heat, add olive oil & then sausage.

Saute for 5mins or so until browned.

Add onion & garlic & sauté for another few mins.

Pour in wine, simmer for a few mins & add tomatoes

Simmer, add mussels & oregano.

Cover & cook until mussels open discarding any that don’t.

Scoop into deep bowls & serve with grilled, thick sliced olive oil ciabatta.