Bobbing was also a favourite way of catching koura back then. “We’d put paua in the bottom of a sock, hang it from a string and lower it into the water. The crayfish would come for it and we’d just pick them out of the water. Sometimes we’d get half a sack full without any bother at all,” they said. They all fondly remember koura mara too – simply described as rotten koura. “We’d leave dead koura in fresh running water for two to three weeks until the tail turned white. The flesh would be clear in the centre and it would be very strong smelling. We’d mix it with vinegar, onions and salt and eat it on bread and butter. It was a delicacy – a bit like dried shark – that took some time to prepare but we ate it regularly.”
“We lived in good times and crayfish were a big part of our everyday life,” they collectively sighed. When they were young they would hunt for koura probably twice a week and they ate it in many different ways – grilled with cheese, curried, fried in butter, in a mornay sauce, or in a salad – for any meal of the day, even a morning or afternoon tea snack.
It goes without saying, that today, the giant crayfish like those adorning roadside koura stalls have helped cement Kaikoura’s image as THE place in New Zealand to find the best lobster.