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Who would think of putting whitebait on a pizza? Well, in Hokitika, a cool little seaside town on the West Coast of the South Island, a local chef decided to combine the local delicacy, whitebait, with an all-time favourite, pizza.
The Hokitika River is a renowned whitebaiting mecca. During the whitebaiting season, which runs September through to November, intrepid locals can be found at their favourite hideout along the riverbank, whitebait net at the ready for these tiny, delicate fish to come swimming along.
Most of the activity is at the river mouth, which is a short, easy stroll from the town centre, although there are prime whitebait stands all along the riverbank, discretely camouflaged amongst the foliage. Whitebait is highly prized and most baiters are content with providing this tiny translucent fish for friends, family and freezer. Others however have a more commercial eye, especially when it retails for NZ$100 per kilo!
Back to the pizza. Take a fresh, soft pizza base, turned up a little at the sides, and smear it with garlic butter. Add a handful of whitebait carefully mixed together with a beaten egg and little milk. Season and pour over the pizza base. Generously sprinkle with capers. You get the idea, but leave it to the experts in Hokitika! Picture the late afternoon sun setting on the Tasman Sea, a rustic table overlooking the rugged stoney beach, a delicious whitebait pizza and a cold New Zealand beer. Or take it back to your motel. It doesn't get better!
Hokitika is a great place to spend a night or two, with outstanding alpine and ocean scenery, excellent local walking trails, the new Treetops Walkway, glowworm dell and world renowned greenstone factory where carvers create masterpieces from local jade. Your New Zealand holiday will be better for a stay in Hoki!
If good food and wine is a priority for your New Zealand self drive vacation, plan your itinerary and stopovers so that you have time to relax and enjoy each destination's specialities.