New Zealand is blessed with an abundant variety of seafood and most can be caught or collected for free. However, bear in mind that there is a daily limit to how much one can take, depending on the area and species. Shellfish such as paua (abalone), kina, pipi, cockles, and tuatua are the easiest and most popular catch.
Information on all recreational limits and sizes including closures and other rules can be found on the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) website mpi.govt.nz. Anyone caught violating the daily limit will be fined.
Papamoa Beach – An Ideal Place to Fish, Swim or Surf & Collect Tuatua!
For your info, Papamoa Beach is a beautiful 16km-long white sandy beach which curves along the coast between Mount Maunganui in the west, and the Kaituna River in the east. The beach is located in Papamoa, the largest suburb in the City of Tauranga.
Papamoa Beach is an ideal place to fish, swim or surf. I found out that it also happens to be the best place to collect shellfish, especially tuatua. 😀 So, one sunny day, several hostel mates and I made our way to the beach to collect some tuatua for our dinner.
Before we go, we made sure to check the time of the tides on the MetService website metservice.com to ensure that we go at the right time because tuatua or any other shellfish can only be collected during the low tide.
The Art of Locating & Collecting Tuatua – Daily Limit 150 Per Person!
Tuatua (Paphies subtriangulata) are larger than pipi (Paphies australis). Tuatua can be found on sandy beaches and are usually harvested during the low tide. I read that the easiest way to locate tuatua is by using our feet, feeling for the shellfish as we walk on the sand.
However, from my experience, I find it easier to locate tuatua just by sight. 😉 Simply walk on the sand and look out for a bunch of tiny brown-coloured seaweed embedded in the sand. That brown seaweed is actually attached to a tuatua. Dig up the seaweed and you will find a tuatua. Dig deeper and all around the first tuatua and you will find a group of tuatua in different sizes.
Repeat the steps until you have collected as many tuatua as you need, but please do not be greedy! I was told that visitors, especially Asians in particular are abusing the privilege by taking more than they should. That irresponsible act is giving us Asians a bad name and reputation! 🙁
Bear in mind that only larger tuatua should be taken to ensure its sustainability. Also, the daily limit for collecting tuatua is 150 per person, except for Auckland and Coromandel where it is 50 per person. The local authorities do regular checks and anyone caught violating the daily limit will be slapped with a hefty fine.
In a Nutshell
Collecting tuatua at Papamoa Beach was a fun-filled activity. It was exciting looking for them in the sand while watching out for the creeping tide and huge waves. Many a times we were drenched by the huge waves that took us by surprise when we were busy digging for tuatua. And, the water was freaking cold!
An unforgettable moment was when I accidentally dug out a huge crab from the sand – it scared the hell out of me! My natural response was to throw it away which I regretted later because I lost a potential good meal. Think salted egg crab. Hahaha!! 😛 Indeed, we had a splashing fun time at Papamoa Beach in Tauranga, Bay of Plenty.
Up next: A visit to The Coromandel Peninsula and exploring the majestic Cathedral Cove