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Bluff Oysters

Some say that Bluff oysters are the finest in the world. They are grown slowly in the cold clean waters of the Foveaux Strait. In season, they are dredged by Bluffs oyster fleet.

Oystering first began commercially at Stewart Island in the 1860s. Coastal cutters were simply beached on the beds at high tide and the oysters shovelled aboard as the tide dropped. The catch was transported in the shell to the mainland and right from the outset demand was so high that within a few years the beds were exhausted. Depleting beds caused the closure of the harvesting in 1877. In 1879 new larger beds were discovered in deeper water and the centre of activity gradually shifted from Stewart Island to Bluff.


In New Zealand they are a prized delicacy, and harvested from March to August from the Foveaux Strait oyster fishery based around the town of Bluff (hence the local name). From the early 1980s the fishery went into serious decline, due to the outbreak of an oyster parasite Bonamia exitiosa , the disease killing an estimated billion oysters between 2000 and 2003. The population has been recovering since 2003, with fishermen voluntarily limiting the catch to half the allowable to aid the revival.

Every year a Bluff Oyster and Food Festivalis held which is worth a visit. 

For more about Bluff please visit the official Bluff website

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