Wish You Were Here: Fresh Abalone and Sea Urchin. Lunch on the Beach in New Zealand.

by Owen James Burke

Scuttlefish writer Owen James Burke is currently rambling around New Zealand, living in a van (or soon to be) with a camera, surfboard and speargun in search of stories, waves and fish. We’re putting together a waterperson’s guide to the island nation, but meanwhile, we’ll be publishing stories and photographs, short updates along the way from the Yankee in Kiwiland. -CD

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Fresh abalone, or “paua” with soy sauce, chillies, garlic and ginger. Photo: Owen James Burke.

Every so often, lunch needs to be served in a shell atop a piece of salt-caked driftwood on the beach, gulls squawking and waves crashing.


Sea urchin, or “kina.” Photo: Owen James Burke.

The Māori, have been savoring “kina,” or sea urchin since their arrival in the islands (and perhaps before), but it’s not the most popular dish among Kiwis of western descent, who tend to use it more for chum or “burley” than anything else. Long story short, there’s plenty to go around, so while you’re here, eat up.


One of New Zealand’s many paua hotspots. Photo: Owen James Burke.

Unlike in many other places around the world, abalone, or “paua” as the native Māori know it, abound in much of New Zealand cool waters. Today I pulled up my limit in less time than it took for me to don and peel off my neoprene.


Paua, kina and feijoas, and, a bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon blanc is the only appropriate accompaniment for this ménage à trois. Photo: Owen James Burke.

Paua sashimi was in short order along the way to camp, but paua cakes, paua fritters, paua burgers, seared paua, paua ceviche, paua Bolognese… –you get the idea–all await. –OJB

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