Shuck me it’s the great Bluff oyster tuck-in

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Queenstown-based former All Black halfback Justin Marshall did 72. His brother-in-law Queenstown bar baron Mike Burgess topped that with 76 – all in a three-hour sitting. 

They were among a group of Queenstowners who enjoyed some of the first Bluff oysters of the season today (Tuesday) at a local restaurant’s special all-you-can-eat long lunch. 

Steamer Wharf restaurant Pier 19 organised delivery of a whopping 160 dozen of the Southland delicacy fresh from the boats at Bluff harbour. 

Pier 19 co-director Karen Hattaway says a crowd of about 45 people – who paid $99 each for the lunch from 2pm to 5pm – downed about 120 dozen between them. 

Bluff-based shucker Norman Irwin – who’s been prizing open oyster shells for 35 years – was on hand to show the locals how it’s done. 

“There were a few people trying to shuck,” Hattaway says. 

“We were counting people’s fingers at the end of it.” 

If the shucking was a bit hit-and-miss, the oysters themselves hit the spot. 

Hattaway says they were incredibly fresh. 

“Your traditional Bluff oyster – salty, luscious and creamy.” 

It’s the first time Queenstown’s Pier 19 has hosted a celebration of the Bluff oyster season opening – joining Auckland Viaduct restaurant Soul which traditionally hosts a similar celebratory lunch. 

Hattaway says she and Pier 19 co-director Grant Hattaway plan to do the same thing next year.