Bluff Oysters: the Mouthwatering New Zealand Delicacy

The tiny New Zealand seaport of Bluff in New Zealand is home to some of the best oysters in the world.

Oysters are a delicacy enjoyed by many and unfortunately as the years go by, afforded by few. They are sought after for their delicious, succulent taste and possibly for their rumoured aphrodisiac qualities. Casanova is said to have consumed four dozen oysters a night.

Bluff Oysters

If you are an oyster lover, the tiny seaport of Bluff in New Zealand is the place to be in May each year, to attend the major calendar attraction, the Bluff Oyster Festival. This tiny town, the most southern in New Zealand, is the home of what are said to be the best oysters in the world. Grown slowly in the cold, deep waters of Foveaux Strait, the mud flat or dredge oyster from this region is commonly known as the Bluff oyster and has fans all around the world.

New Zealand’s oyster industry has been operating out of Foveaux Strait between the South Island and Stewart Island since the mid 1860s. Fishing fleets now operate out of the port of Bluff, hence the name for this tasty delicacy. The season is short, starting in March most years and lasting for only a few months. Because of the popularity of this shellfish, fishing boat quotas have been in place since 1963, ensuring continued supply.

Bluff Oyster Season 2010

The 2010 Bluff oyster season opened at the beginning of March and is off to a fantastic start. This year the oysters are said to be bigger, juicier and tastier than they’ve been in a long time. According to one veteran oysterman the possibility of a bumper season could be because of the cooler weather this year. The fleets have been out, bringing back their daily catches and the long awaited tasty morsel has arrived in shops throughout the country.

I am a great oyster fan, having been taught how to eat oysters from an early age. My birthday coincides with the opening of the oyster season and as a child, when given the choice of a birthday party or a dozen oysters, the oysters won each time. However this year, with oysters priced at between NZ$20 – 50 per dozen, my husband and I may restrict ourselves to only one or two dozen for the season.

Bluff Oyster and Food Festival 2010

The annual Bluff Oyster Festival will start on 22 May this year. Oyster lovers come not only from all over New Zealand, but from all over the world to attend this increasingly popular festival. For two days the small township celebrates their most famous local commodity. Thousands flock annually to the festival, to take part in a weekend of activities involving not only the oysters, but also other local seafood and wine. Tickets are limited and in the last two years the festival has attracted capacity crowds.

Eating Bluff Oysters

Many oyster fans, myself included, believe the only true way to eat oysters is au naturale. Raw oysters have a unique juiciness and flavour that is hard to beat. However, if raw oysters don’t appeal to you, there are many ways to cook them. Local fish shops and restaurants are currently selling individual cooked battered oysters for between NZ$2 – 4. They can also be served crumbed or in a light mornay sauce.

Whatever your choice, the Bluff Oyster season has started and there will be no shortage of people lining up to part with their money for their annual taste of these delicious morsels.


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Andrea Whyte
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