Sunday, 23 October 2011

NZ travelogue: The freshest salmon we could find

This is an attraction that will be definitely missed by any tourist who moves about in group tours. No tour bus will bother with stopping at this place. Even tourists who choose to move around in rental cars are liable to miss out on this place too. The irony is that the High Country Salmon Farm is not even off the beaten track. It's just beside the road, along the highway that connects Twizel to Wanaka.

For us, the farm was a pre-planned stop in our itinerary. I was already eyeing this place long before I set foot in New Zealand. So I told my wife that we shall be foregoing lunch at Twizel after we come down from the Aoraki Mount Cook national park. Yes, we did stop in Twizel but it was just for half a mo' to refresh ourselves before continuing with our journey south.

Just beyond the outskirts of Twizel, about three kilometres from the town, we crossed the Oahu River which drained the water from the Ruataniwha Lake. Water from this lake was fed mainly from the Lake Pukaki by a hydro canal and also from the Ohau Lake. This mix of source water meant that the colour was a lesser creamy turquoise blue than the Lake Pukaki itself.

Immediately after the bridge, the High Country Salmon Farm loomed ahead on the left. Reasonably spacious visitor parking lot but during our stop, there were no other cars beside ours. Could be because the place was not so well indicated. The only sign I saw along the highway was a small billboard that proclaimed "Fresh Salmon".

True that you can also see this sign but it's right on the property itself and not so evident when travelling on the highway. (By the way, we didn't get to feed the salmon. We were hungry and that was the first order of the day! And after we finished eating, we had forgotten about feeding the fish. Pity!)

This is where they farm the Chinook salmon, fed by the pure glacial waters of New Zealand's Southern Alps. Most of the fish are sent to the main cities in the country but visitors can also be assured of partaking in the freshest salmon sashimi of their lives. I looked around their stock of prepared sashimi cuts and chose a packet. Looking at the orange-coloured sashimi itself is enough to make the mouth water and the knees weak, what more to pick up a piece and savour it slowly.

Mmm, that first bite of the fresh sashimi in the mouth was the sweetest, firmest, crunchiest and most heavenly experience I have had of salmon meat.

Superb quality. Every bite was firm and crunchy, so unlike the salmon sashimi we get back here in Malaysia. After experiencing the salmon here, it's almost impossible for us to go back to the Japanese food from the local Malaysian restaurants. Talk about our pampered taste buds. But it's true, you know, you only need to try the sashimi at the High Country Salmon Farm to understand our feelings on this matter.

 Above: freshly dressed salmon awaiting pick-up by customers.

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