When I was living in Wellington, I was told to go to Bluff, one of the southern most towns in New Zealand. I was told to have Bluff oysters (reportedly the best oysters in New Zealand) and muttonbird, a traditional Maori delicacy. It is the eating of the baby shearwater bird. We don't eat the adults. There is a season for muttonbird, but like with the whitebait, I hoped to find someone who could allow me to taste some.
From Queenstown, I booked my ticket to Bluff. The very nice woman helping me called a friend in Bluff who told her that it had been a terrible season for muttonbird and that there were very few in the area this year. I was told not to expect to find any unless a local would be willing to part with his or her precious few.
I was a bit disappointed, but figured if I can't have muttonbird, then at least I'll have Bluff oysters. When I got to the backpackers in Bluff, I was the only person staying there. I guess no one really wants to stay the night in such a sleepy little town. It was surprising how empty it seemed. As I walked along the main street, out of the 30 or so storefronts, only about 5 of them were occupied, the rest looked like a ghost town.
I went into a bar to enquire about muttonbird and oysters and was told that the season was so bad for muttonbird that one of the woman's friends had only gotten 12 buckets of them. It sounded like a lot to me, until she told me that last year he had gotten 80 buckets!
Anyway, I spoke to the owner of the backpackers about wanting to try those two things while I was down here. He revealed that he had some muttonbird in the freezer and would cook up some for dinner. I was so excited! I was finally going to taste the mysterious muttonbird!
Below: What it looks and tastes like
Below: Part two...tasting it