After ringing in 2014 in Christchurch and a few hours of sleep, our tour headed north up the eastern coast of the south island to Kaikoura. Myself and four other travel mates opted to go “fishing with Jerry”. We were enticed by tales of eating freshly caught crayfish (that’s what they call lobster in New Zealand) while drinking an over-abundance of wine.
There was no time for rest after our 2 1/2 hour drive. Nick (who worked for Jerry) picked us up as soon as our van stopped on the streets of Kaikoura. Assuming we would have time to get into our luggage, I was not dressed appropriately for fishing and the weather wasn’t doing us any favors. Dark gray clouds were approaching and the wind was really picking up.
Unfortunately our bags were all precariously stacked in a tow trailer and I was reluctant to ask the guide for access to my bag. However, I was quickly relieved as others started mumbling that they needed warmer clothes too. Not having another option, we unloaded the trailer and dug through our bags on the sidewalk…luckily there wasn’t a lot of foot traffic where we parked. Once everyone had warmer clothes we worked together to reload the tow trailer and scurried to the public restrooms to change.
As it turned out, we really didn’t “fish with Jerry”, we fished with Nick and Calvin. The desired catch of he day was perch. The fishing gear all had two baited hooks per line and unfortunately we only had four poles to share among five of us. Well, that was until one of the poles broke in the first 10 minutes. That didn’t stop us from catching a lot of perch. I personally caught four and we ended up keeping 12 (not including the small ones we opted to throw back).
***The ride to our fishing grounds and it wasn’t even rough yet.***
But, this wasn’t just a fishing trip. It also ended up being a wildlife viewing trip. We saw a penguin, lots of differently colored sea birds and the highlight was seeing an albatross. At first glance an albatross looks like a seagull that had been raised on steroids…a lot of steroids. I’d estimate the one we say was about 4-5 times the size of the seagulls. Captain Nick told us that there is a bread of albatross in New Zealand even bigger than the one we saw…I can’t even image what that one would look like.
The trip was cut a bit short because the weather gods really started working against us. The rain wasn’t too bad, but the water was really rough. We all said more than once that it was a good thing some of our fellow motion-sickness travelers weren’t with us. It would have been tough on them. I even felt myself feeling a little queasy at one point and that never happens.
***Rocking boat and the motor wasn’t even on…it got even rougher than this before the trip was over.***
On the way back to shore we picked up a couple of crayfish pots that had been soaking for a while. Between the two pots, there were at least 20-30 crayfish and we were able to keep about half of them after checking their size.
Once we reached shore, they loaded the boat on a trailer (towed by a tractor) and towed it to Jerry’s house with us still in the boat. This must be a common mode of transportation in New Zealand, since it was the second time we’d be ferried from land to sea.
***Being towed back to Jerry’s house for a feast of perch, crayfish (lobster), and win.***
The crew and Jerry made quick work of the perch and served it to us raw. I’m not going to lie…it was hard for me to make the decision to try it, but eventually I did. For me, eating and not liking raw fish is more of a texture issue than a taste issue. It tasted a lot like the sauce they gave us to dip it in. The raw fish was accompanied by several glasses of wine (which Jerry buys by the case full).
We helped Jerry and Nick prepare the crayfish for our feast. After loading them in the pot and waiting for them to cook, Jerry demonstrated how to properly cut a lobster in half. Between the five of us we quickly devoured three lobster and brought two of them, and some perch back to the rest of our group.
“Fishing with Jerry” was just another great optional adventure offered during my tour of New Zealand.