I just love exploring the Mercs! And with a new someone special coming into my life, I wanted to show her my idea of paradise! There’s nothing better than seeing somewhere you love through someone else’s eyes! So Tia and I shot off from Whitianga bound for the Mercs for two nights on PROVIDER. We didn’t pack a lot of protein, a bit of stuff from the garden, a few coldies and the whole idea was to catch what we were going to eat over the three days on the water!
First stop was Opito Bay, one of my fav places in the world, and a quick dives for some scallops to feast on! We scoffed a heap of them raw - so good! And kept a few for a feed on the frypan!
I’ve never stayed in Coralie Bay, and with a piping westerly, that looked like the best anchorage. We arrived right on dusk, and it was even better than I imagined, amazing steep white cliffs, moulding into white sandy pohutukawa fringed beaches and crystal clear water….epic!
We feasted on kingfish sashimi, raw and cooked scallops, and had a few quiet gins with a good keen launch owner who rowed over to say gidday! What it is all about!
We had stocked up on some livebaits coming out of Whitianga, and I wanted to make the most of those and try and get Tia her first kingfish the next morning. I snuck around the corner to Never Fail Rock, the tide had just swung to outgoing which was perfect, and two drifts in Tia came up tight on a real nice fish! It dug in hard and gave her a real good scrap, she got a very good taste of how these guys can fight, really pulling hard til the end. We got it in the boat and Tia had her first kingfish! A solid 17kg model at that, a pretty good way to start off a fishing career! Stoked as!
The day was still very young, and the water on the east side of Great Merc was flat as a pancake and crystal clear, so the plan was to dive a large part of the rest of the day, and take a chill pill.
With a nice bay to park up in, first thing was gathering the secret ingredient for breakfast! Kina scrambled eggs! Divine!
With breakfast in the belly it was time for a bit of serious freediving to find some good sized paua. Tia came in for a snorkel as well and was buzzing! Paua are one of my favourite forms of seafood and pretty soon we’d gathered a feed. I finley sliced a few for lunch and they were so tender and tasty stirfried in garlic, chilli and ginger. We kept some more for a seafood cake recipe I had in mind that night ;-)
We moved a bit further south towards Coralie exploring the coast at no more than 5 knots, totaly chill speed, and found a cool little lagoon on the way
Time to get some crays! I jumped in, with crays in mind, leaving my speargun behind, only to get teased by twenty nice sized kingfish! But the bonus was some epic cray country and lots of crayfish to add to the feast I had in mind!
That night we were back in Coralie, and I had the Meanest Fish Cake recipe in mind….Scallops, Crayfish, Kingfish and Paua, mixed together in some potato boiled in salt water, with some egg and fresh spinach from the garden and coated in FogDog gluten free panko crumb…..OMG, just divine!
After a totally chill morning in Coralie the next morning, we slowly made our way back to Whitianga via Sheep Bay at Greay Merc, and Horseshoe Bay back on the coast…magic…and maybe a few more paua and crayfish for lunch! OK then!
We had an absolute ball, took in some magic scenery, and learnt a few good lessons, top of the list….pack more chardonnay next time!