Local Oyster Farm Tours
This region offers an amazing coastline from rugged outer islands to calm inlets and harbours. In one such harbour, The Mahurangi, runs New Zealand’s only oyster farm tour.
The flat bottom boat named ‘The Shuckleferry’ glides gently across the bay from the departure point of Scotts Landing and, as the name suggests, stops in prime shucking location - a working oyster farm. Newly renovated and repowered with twin Honda engines supplied by Mahurangi Marine, the vessel offers comfortable time out on the water for up to 20 people.
The oysters farmed in this harbour are of the Pacific variety - Crassostrea Gigas. Arriving in New Zealand around the 1960s this prolific breeder soon occupied harbours all over the north growing on wooden sticks. Little has changed since the farms were formed, in fact the area we head to was one of the first established and is a sight to behold, as the tide retreats showing thousands of the slate coloured bi-valves growing in the nutrient rich waters.
A mature oyster can filter up to 100 litres of water a day, thus giving the oysters a unique flavour, showcasing the area they have grown. “The pacific is generally a sweet flavour and you wouldn’t be mistaken detecting notes of melon and cucumber, however for the average oyster lover, they are just bloody delicious,” says owner Phil Morris.
Before devouring the bounty, the skipper gives a “shucking” lesson with each person having to shuck their own before having a good old-fashioned seafood feed. BBQ oysters are also on the menu, with even the most apprehensive oyster fence sitter turned with a shell filled with melted garlic butter. After the feast we cruise the sheltered bays looking for stingrays and enjoying the fresh salt air until the return back to Scotts Landing.
New Zealand Oyster Farm Tours runs a one-hour cruise daily with a full two hour experience every second weekend and every day from 1 December - 20 January.
Check them out at this year’s Oyster Festival, where they will be running The Shucking Competition.