The Stewart Island oysters we grow are the same species as Bluff oysters, (Tiostrea chilensis) also known as Foveaux Strait oyster, flat oyster or dredge oyster.
By cultivating this oyster on Stewart Island, Oystercatcher’s Choice bring the flavour and texture to another level. Oystercatcher’s Choice oysters are the sweetest and creamiest available with a wonderful lingering aftertaste.
They are grown high in the water column on trays and also among the mussel crop, which gives access to abundant phytoplankton (oyster food) therefore the oysters are phenomenally plump and sweet.
As an aquacultured species there is no season, so the oysters are obtainable all year round.
The waters of Big Glory Bay are pristine, surrounded by untouched native bush, now Rakiura National Park, to the high tide mark around the shoreline. The waters are completely sediment free with absolutely no pollution.
The growing waters are subjected to rigorous monitoring for bacterial levels and are free of contamination. Even after heavy rainfall events, the oysters are classified “approved” for harvesting, the highest ranking available.
In conjunction with this, a weekly testing regime for algal biotoxins is carried out, which all growing areas in New Zealand have to do for safety of the product.
Both of these programmes are vital for safe consumption of seafood that is often eaten raw. New Zealand is a world leader in these programmes for shellfish biotoxin monitoring.
Europeans first discovered this species of oyster on Stewart Island, though it was known prior to this by early Rakiura Maori.
In the 1860s Englishman Charles Brett began harvesting the shellfish in what became known as Oyster Cove, Port Adventure.
The oyster beds were easily accessible and in the early 1870s these beds had become seriously depleted. Brett then developed the oyster beds around Port William, just to the north of Halfmoon Bay, Stewart Island, which later led to the discovery of the large Foveaux Strait oyster beds and consequently the birth of the famous Bluff Oyster Fishery, which exists to this day.
The Stewart Island, or Bluff Oyster, has been described by knowledgeable oyster connoisseurs as the ‘finest tasting oyster in the world’, a sentiment with which Oystercatcher’s Choice heartily agree.