Hi there, I received a booking for a wedding in the Queen Charlotte Sounds the other day which brought back my memories of the amazing mussel expedition I was lucky to have been part of a few months back...as I hadn't shared it with you yet as thought what a perfect time to do so!
I was asked if I would like to photograph Southern Ocean's mussel factory as well as come along on a trip to the Queen Charlotte Sounds to visit the mussel farms where they source their mussels. Well, I was already all in so was amazed when there was more to come!
This was topped up by an al-fresco luncheon at the gorgeous Furneaux Lodge which was again followed by a the charter plane ride back to Wellington to put on a some nice evening attire to attend a private 9-course degustation dinner at and with Martin Bosley.
So lets wrap this story into some photographs I took on the day of photography heaven.
First stop: Southern Ocean's Mussel Factory in Christchurch. Luckily they have got away without damages and only minor injuries from the recent earth quakes so that they are still going strong to deliver shock-frozen mussels to the world that taste as fresh as if you just fished them out of the water of the Queen Charlotte Sounds...
I'm not sure if it's because I'm German but I just love factories. It excites me to see all the steps involved to finish a product. In Germany its quite common to do factory tours so I have seen many in my life...from cars to chocolate factories. Its amazing and I can only recommend it as it makes you appreciate the technology that goes into things of the every day life...so here more of the amazing Mussel-De-Shelling maching Southern Ocean invented to steam, take the shell off, wash and freeze mussels in just a few steps...
The last image showed the steaming process. In this image you can see them having a shower..
Here they had a little loud jumpy dance together before they tippled down to the next stage of the journey
You can really see the colour difference between female and male mussels. Do you know who the male and females are?
If not here is how you can tell: A cream to light flesh representing the male and a orange to apricot color for the female. There is no taste difference between the male and female. Isn't that an interesting fact?!
and back into another bath
and hear all frozen and ready to be bagged...
Wow, amazing isn't it...but wait. Let's go back and take a look at where those lovely green-lipped mussels everyone loves grew up.
Let's start our journey and see some breathtaking photos I took when looking at our beautiful country from a birds view..
We were so close to the mountains the plane wing seemed to nearly scratch the snow off some..
Safe and sound we arrived in Picton....here our wee plane..
The view from the Picton wharf where we were waiting for our boat to take us out to the farms..
After a 30 minute ride out we finally arrived to see our mussels home...these ropes is what they hang on too whilst they are growing into gorgeous juicy and succulent things we know..
And now it was time to reach some land again...we found a very gorgeous and remote piece of land in the Queen Charlotte Sounds, called the Furneaux Lodge.
This shot show all the men present of on the day...Mana Hogan, Tawera Nikau and Richie Barnett who represented the Southern Ocean team.
This was our view from the table from which we enjoyed a lovely extended lunch...
Whilst we were doing this there was a team of divers out to fetch some fresh seafood for us. They arrived with bag loads full of Kina and Scallops. Before this day I didn't know that you can eat scallops raw, however Tawera Nikau and Richie Barnett taught me otherwise.
Here a shot of Tawera enjoying another freshly caught kinna...you crack it and it keeps moving its spikes...whoa
I can say that I prefer raw fresh scallops more than cooked ones now, as just like oysters you can really taste their goodness best "ala natural" .
When it was time to hid back to catch our plane we were lucky and had some dolphins say hi by jumping sheepishly up and down right next to the boat. Amazing farewell from the Queen Charlotte Sounds.
Once in the plane I we went straight to Wellington passing over the spectacular sounds in the warm evening light. See the little boat? This could have been us just 30 minutes ago.
And here a great shot of a mussel farm similar to the one we visited earlier from the birds view. Gorgeous!
Once back in Wellington it was time to Martin Bosley at his restaurant Martin Bosley's on Oriental Bay. We had the most amazing sunset whilst enjoying some great conversation coupled with some excellent drops of wine. Here you can see Mana Hogan, Martin Bosley, a representative for Coles Australia as well as Tawera Nikau having a laugh before the degustation started. As it was a private function had Martin join in for dinner which was fantastic as we could learn a lot about the food they served and the thoughts that went into the every creation.
A great smile from Tawera.
Richie Barnett and Martin Bosley..
Well, I hope you loved this expedition. On a windy and rainy day like today it is nice to be reminded how wonderful a country we actually live in....enjoy and maybe eat some mussels soon!
Lots of love