The arrival of March means something seriously exciting is upon us – Bluff oyster season.
For the uninitiated, Invercargill's billowy ocean bounty has become world-renowned for a variety of reasons. Dredged from the icy Foveaux Strait during the months of March until early August, oystering first became commercially practiced on Stewart Island during the 1860s. However by 1879, depleting oyster beds caused dredgers to migrate from Stewart Island to Bluff, where deeper, plentiful oyster beds were discovered.
This season, we've made a conscious effort not to shuck around, rounding up the best oyster spots up and down the country where you can enjoy these magnificent molluscs.
From Auckland's glittering Viaduct right down to the best on offer in Invercargill – here are 10 eateries that we guarantee will satisfy your Bluff oyster fix:
1. Soul Bar, Auckland
Tipped as one of the best spots in the city to devour Bluff oysters year after year, Auckland's Soul Bar and Bistro will again play host to the best oyster celebrations. $175 per person includes all the freshly shucked oysters you can eat, plus battered, kilpatrick and more. Guests will enjoy a flute of GH Mumm Champagne on arrival. For more, see their website here.
2. Euro, Auckland
Boasting a variety of oyster celebrations, Euro Bar & Restaurant will kick off their festivities with The Great Bluff Lunch on Thursday, March 15. Indulge in a 5-course set menu and free-flowing. For $250 per person, the menu includes crayfish, whitebait and of course, bountiful Bluff oysters. Places are limited so be sure to book to avoid disappointment.
The annual Oyster Festival will also return to Auckland's Princess Wharf for the month of March, with eateries Euro, The Culpeper, Coley and Punch and The Crab Shack Auckland all scheduled to celebrate a month of mollusc madness.
Nourish Group Executive Chef Gareth Stewart will launch the festival with a trip down to Bluff to help harvest the very first commercial catch of oysters. Throughout March, enjoy a range of delicious events and specials, from all-you-can-eat oysters to bargain-priced dozens, live music, masterclasses and more. For event details, see here.
3. Seafarers, Auckland
Offering a spectacular vista of Auckland's port, a coveted spot on Seafarers' rooftop is unparalleled come sunset. Come Bluff oyster season, Seafarers will be offering a number of events across their different venues throughout the city. From Azabu to Ostro, Ebisu to The Deck, look no further than Britomart to keep you well fed with bountiful Bluffies. For more, see their website.
4. Harbourside Ocean Bar and Grill, Auckland
In keeping with tradition, Harbourside will be hosting their annual All You Can Eat, Bluff Oyster Long Lunch. On Tuesday, March 6 and Wednesday, March 7, guests will be treated to a delicious seafood spread, for $175 per person.
Enjoy a flute of G.H. Mumm Champagne on arrival and an exclusive menu, including all you can eat freshly shucked Bluffies served natural, battered, kilpatrick and panko crumbed plus Big Glory Bay Salmon, Wakanui Beef and more – this event is not to be missed. For booking details, see here.
5. Bluff Oyster and Food Festival, Invercargill
It goes without saying that the best place to enjoy Bluff oysters is Bluff itself. This May, the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival will kick off in Invercargill. Offering some of the country's best seafood, specialty foods and wine, including crayfish, pāua, scallops, salmon, blue cod and whitebait, as well as venison, beef, pork, lamb. You can secure tickets for as little as $30 – it's well worth the annual pilgrimage down south. For more, see their website.
6. Capitol, Wellington
Proudly serving Bluffies as soon as they're available, Wellington's Capitol Restaurant will be offering juicy and delicious oysters all season long. Be sure to book ahead of schedule to beat the hungry punters itching to get a prime spot in the sun. We suggest you pair this season's finest with a crisp glass of Momo Chardonnay. To book, see their website here.
7. Mission Bay Pavilion, Auckland
Satisfy your seafood cravings at Mission Bay Pavilion this weekend, with $3 Bluff oysters on offer to kick start the season in spectacular style. With live music, a pop-up DIY oyster bar complete with an impressive line-up of toppings and condiments, consider Bluffs By The Bay the place to be come March 4. The Bluff Market will be open from Sunday, March 4, 1pm until 6pm, offering three freshly shucked Bluffies and a flute of GH Mumm for as little as $20. For the brew-lover, you can nab yourself a glass of Peroni and three Bluffies for $15. For details, see their website here.
8. Barnes Wild Bluff Oysters, Invercargill
Considered by oyster lovers as the "holy grail" of seafood, southerners can rest assured that Barnes Oysters will be serving their bounty as fresh as ever. Located on the corner of Spey and Bond Street on an unassuming spot in West Invercargill, Barnes have been delivering deliciously fresh, wild oysters for more than 55 years. It goes without saying, that if you want the best oysters in town, you go to Barnes Wild Bluff Oysters. For more, see their website.
9. Ortega Fish Shack and Bar, Wellington
A favourite among locals and visitors alike, our favourite seafood eatery in the windy city is bound to be Bluffin come oyster season. Be sure to book well in advance, this delicious little bistro is popular, and for good reason. For booking details, see here.
10. Shucker Brothers, Auckland
When one Waiheke-based duo decided it was high-time to extend their juicy offerings to the mainland, our summer just got a whole lot tastier. Shucker Brothers and Island Gelato – an interconnected eatery at Auckland’s downtown wharf that allows you to flex your culinary creativity and satisfy all your summer cravings under the same roof. This season, expect to see some juicy Bluffies grace their ever-impressive seafood menu. For more, see here.
From Auckland's glittering Viaduct right down to Invercargill, here are 10 spots where you can satisfy your Bluff oyster fix.