New Zealand's must-eat seafood

New Zealand's seafood is world famous. Try our rich crayfish, succulent king salmon and tasty green-lipped mussels.

This is your guide to finding seafood fresh from the source in New Zealand.


The New Zealand crayfish are similar to lobster, but they are clawless and have one less pair of legs. Preferring rocky areas and deep sea beds, crayfish are found in coastal areas of New Zealand, and are especially abundant in Kaikōura. Creamy and rich, crayfish are a delicacy and often feature on the dinner table during the Christmas break or other special events.

King salmon (Chinook salmon)

New Zealand accounts for over half of the world's production of king salmon. Of all salmon species, the king salmon offers the highest natural oil content of Omega-3s which benefit both heart and joint health. Salmon strive in the cold waters of Mt Cook (Aoraki), Wānaka and Akaroa. Sold whole, in fillets or sliced, king salmon flesh is delicate yet rich in flavour. Try it smoked, grilled or raw.

Kina (sea urchin)

Kina are a species of sea urchin native to New Zealand. A hard yet pretty shell covered in dark brownish-green spikes protects the yellow to orange coloured flesh (roe) inside. An acquired taste for many, the texture of kina flesh is smooth and the taste almost buttery. Male kina are creamy and female kina are more grainy. Most 'fish and chip' shops in New Zealand sell pottles of fresh kina flesh / roe. And pottles can also be found at supermarket deli-counters.

Green-lipped mussels

Green-lipped mussels are easily distinguished from other mussels by the dark green shell with a bright green lip that it is named for. Mussels are harvested year-round in all coastal areas of New Zealand but most are grown in farms in Marlborough Sounds, The Coromandel, Golden Bay and Stewart Island. Males mussels are white and females are orange - both with the same flavour. They are most commonly steamed and infused with white wine and garlic, but are equally delicious baked or as a fritter.

Pāua (abalone)

Pāua is a popular New Zealand delicacy. The dark green pāua meat is encased in a palm sized thick oval shaped shell. The inside of the shell reveals swirls of bright purple, green and yellow. Imitation pāua shell jewelry can be purchased from gift shops in New Zealand. The most common way to eat pāua is in a fritter or cooked in a buttery creamy chowder, served with rewena bread. The meat is often minced due to it's chewy texture. Pāua fritters can be purchased from most 'fish and chip' shops around the country. 


A local Kiwi favourite, scallops are a must to try when in New Zealand. They are in season during July through to February. Scallops can be found in most places in the country but prefer the warmer waters of The Coromandel and Northland. They live in the mudbanks of sheltered bays. Featured in entrees, the scallop is often served with the roe on (the orange flesh). The flavoursome sweetness of the New Zealand scallop, means cooking them in butter is often all that's needed.


Large, plump and juicy, New Zealand oysters have earned a reputation as some of the finest in the world. April to December is when the oyster flesh is fat and crisp. Whilst October to December brings a more creamy texture. The Bluff oyster is the largest species in New Zealand. With a more intense flavour than other species, the Bluff oyster is thicker and often large enough to cover the entire palm of your hand. Oysters are best eaten fresh and raw from the shell. 

Fresh fish

Snapper, or Tāmure as it is called in Māori, is the most popular fish to eat in New Zealand. Snapper flesh is white with a sweet, mild flavour. Gurnard is also popular, with bright red scales and legs to walk on the seabed. The gurnard is tasty fish with firm white meat that holds its shape when cooked. Also, the dark coloured flesh of the kahawai is often smoked using Mānuka-wood chips, then made into fish pie. During the winter months blue cod is abundant in southern New Zealand. Blue cod fillets are thick yet delicate and flaky and often feature in seafood chower.

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