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.