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girl kissing fish

Living off the land

There’s nothing so rewarding as catching, picking or hunting your dinner in New Zealand and living off the land! It brings us together with mates and family. It makes us proud to be able to provide for our family. It gives us recipes and techniques to hand down through the generations. And it reminds us of the wonderful abundance in this land we call home. And of course it tastes damn good!


Even the youngest in our family are learning this Kiwi tradition – heading out to find cockles, to catch fish and to pick blackberries.

Father and Daughter fishing

James and his daughter fishing

If you are James you are also out in the bush hunting pigs, diving for scallops and searching for that big Kingfish.

And along with all that hunting and gathering comes the recipes. We have so many that we love but here’s a few that we wanted to share….

Granny’s Fish and Chip shop

When the fish comes off the back of Pa’s boat it goes into the bach to Granny’s fish and chip shop. Her fish and chip shop may only be a deep fryer on the bench but fresh fried fish tastes so good and it’s even better when Granny hand delivers it to the hungry grandkids in the back yard, wrapped up in newspaper just like they do at the fish and chip shop.

Cockle sandwiches

So much of the food we catch we really don’t need to do a lot to and this is certainly true for cockles.

One of my oldest memories is walking down to Cockle Bay Beach with my Dad and collecting cockles in my skirt and then racing home to boil them up and eat them with Vinegar.

It’s something I take my girls to do now and our favourite spot is Colville.

So how to make the perfect Cockle sandwhich? Leave them overnight in salt water to spit out all their sand (if you can wait that long) and then steam them until all the shells open. Pop them on some bread and butter with a little bit of vinegar. Perfection!

Fresh blackberries

This one is easy – they actually don’t need anything else!! But you can find some tips on how to find them on our post here

Scollops – well any way

If you are a fan there is no bad way to cook scollops but our favourites have to be deep fried or James Mum’s scollop mornay..

Deep fried scollops are so easy and delicious. Especially with fresh scallops. James once went diving for them in the Coromandel and drove them up to Auckland to me especially so we could cook them and take them to my Grandma’s rest home because they are her favourite food in the world!

We also managed to get James Mum to part with her recipe but as is all baking at the batch its all by taste not by measurements. In her words she just splashes this and that together (wish I could do it like that!) But here’s a list of what to splash together….

First make a cheese sauce – flour and butter and slowly add the milk . Keeping it pretty thick , then I add the grated cheese. Preferably tasty.

I lightly cook the scallops in butter.

Add in salt and pepper and finally sliced spring onion, then I add white wine and grated lemon rind.

Only just cook the scallops then add them and the juice into the cheese sauce.

Put in casserole dish , sprinkle top with extra grated cheese and grill for few mins then enjoy

Aunty Cheryl’s Mussel Fritters

We managed to find some huge mussels on the top of a rock just under the water in Coromandel. James was so keen he jumped in with his jandals and a bucket in his bucket. My Dad came back saying he was surprised James didn’t sink to the bottom with a bucket full of water but he came home with mussels instead.

Our favourite recipe for Mussels comes from Aunty Cheryl…


Quarter cup milk

Half cup flour

Half teaspoon baking powder

Half teaspoon curry powder

Salt & pepper

One small onion.

Wish egg and milk, salt and pepper. Add flour whisk and baking powder. Add finely chopped onion and curry powder…stir until a nice batter.. add raw chopped mussels fry in very fine oil or coconut oil..beautiful..

Scampi with Garlic Butter

This is still to this day the best meal that we have ever had. We were at James old house on the Hauraki Plains and a friend of his bought over some Scampi.

I’d never had it before but I’ll give anything a go. She put the Scampi in a baking dish with some butter and garlic. That’s it. A few minutes later we were cracking them open with our hands and sucking the meat out. Even the kids were doing it.

They were utterly delicious and when ever we see Scampi on a menu we order it but they have never been quite as good…

Stick to your quota

It goes without saying really but we are so blessed here in New Zealand to be able to go out and catch our own dinner so lets make sure we leave enough so that we can continue to do it for generations to come. Stick to your quota. Only catch what you’ll eat and throw the little ones (like mine below) back in the ocean to keep on growing.


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