Well, if you’ve been following along you know we had a bit of a stressful entrance into Havelock Marina but we made it. Tied to the dock with anchor down beverages in hand we began to take stock in what would be our home for the next three days….The charming town of Havelock.
Once we finished our ceremonial anchor down beverages, which, by the way, went down extra fast this afternoon, we headed up to the marina office to take care of business.
Anthony and Steve in the office here might be two of the finest mates we’ve come across down here on South Island. Their infectious smiles, great sense of humor and willingness to help us with whatever we need is simply amazing. Steve, God bless his soul, even volunteered to help get a package we had delivered to Picton Marina delivered to us here in Havelock.
Seems he lives in Blenheim and knew one of the workers at the Picton Marina. He had this guy pick up our package, deliver it to him at his home and in turn he brought it to us here in Havelock. Now THAT is what I call excellent customer service. Thanks again Steve. This is true example of what we’ve come to know as the “Kiwi way”.
After getting things squared away at the office Dan came back to Dazzler to get things organized again. We had roughly 60 meters of anchor rode sitting on deck from the tow, the dinghy was still in the water and lines and other things were strewn about Dazzler’s rails and deck. While Dan tightened up the decks I headed to the showers. There’s just something so inviting about a warm marina shower after days or weeks on the hook.
The Green-Lipped Mussel Capital Of The World
Let me stop to give you a little history on this adorable place. Havelock is a small town that has a population of just 591. When I say this is a small town, I mean it. It’s so small they recently had the whole place re-carpeted. (A little funny for those of you who love the movie, Arthur).
This charming town sits at the base of Mount Takorika and is mainly a commercial fishing port. Havelock is considered the green-lipped mussel capital of the world. Given that everywhere you look in the sounds you see mussel farms, it’s a no brainer as to why this is the case.
The marina and surrounding mussel packing plants make up the largest part of town and are located center stage along the waterfront. The road that goes through the city’s centre is just over a quarter of a mile long. No, this is not a big place! But, what we found is that what it lacks in physical size it more than makes up in heart with her wonderful and kind residents.
New Zealand produces just over 95,000 gross tons of mussels each year and 75% of them come from the Pelorus Sound region which is where Havelock is located. Everywhere you look as you travel through the sound you see mussel farms lacing the shores. We’ve enjoyed the views along the way and it’s even better getting to see where all of these mussels end up.
Interestingly enough 80% of New Zealand’s aquaculture exports are mussels so if you eat New Zealand green-lipped mussels, chances are they came from here. We may even have photos of the farm where your muscles were grown.
Our First Evening In Havelock
When we checked in at the marina the guys there told us the Annual Mussel Festival was going to be held this weekend. We were originally only planning to stay three days but since my birthday is on Saturday and they said they could accommodate us for the extra days, we decided to stay a couple more days.
The evening we arrived Lutz & Gabi joined us as we went to the only restaurant open in this quaint little town….The Captain’s Daughter. Little did I know then how much I would come to love this place. (More on that in the next article). The walk to the restaurant, just like walks to anywhere else in town, was just ten minutes from the marina.
We arrived to find one of the cutest little restaurants ever. With wood floors and tables, stone walls and a quaint little bar area complete with fireplaces in the bar and restaurant. It reminded me of something you’d see in a village in the Cotswolds in England. They were busy too! Of course we figured it being the only restaurant open that night probably had something to do with it. Soon we’d find out that there is more to it than just that.
We had a booking and were seated quite promptly. The menu is fabulous. They have everything from King Salmon to mussels to lamb. We all ordered the lamb. There’s nothing quite like New Zealand lamb. And this lamb dinner is comprised of the back strap of the lamb. There’s nothing more delicious and tender than that.
Over dinner and cocktails we discussed the events of the day. Of course there were many jokes flying about regarding the way we used the mud to clean Dazzler’s bottom on the way into port. Dan took it all in stride. After all they say there are only three types of captains out there. “The one who has gone aground, the one who will eventually go aground and the one who lies about it.”
Our dinner here was over the top exceptional! The lamb was sliced into small tenderloins then laid on a potato and cauliflower puree with some pureed green peas on the side for color. Over the top they drizzled a light, yet extremely flavorful au jus. Oh my, my mouth is watering just thinking of it. It was so good that Dan & I returned the following evening and had the exact same meal.
Passing The Time In Havelock
Over the next couple of days we spent a little time here and there with our friends when we weren’t all trying to catch up on business or other projects. On one afternoon we met up at the Havelock Hotel and Settler’s Restaurant to watch the America’s Cup race. So many people we know are envious that we are in New Zealand while this is being held here. Many also ask why we aren’t in Auckland watching it live. Well, for us that’s just a whole lot of chaos and people. We’re just as happy to watch it on TV and quite frankly, you get a better view.
We did a little provisioning while in town. Havelock has a very small Four Square Grocery store, a liquor store and even a small chandlery. Of course with all of the commercial fishing you’d expect that. They do have a few other restaurants as well and one night we ate at the Mussel Pot. Can you guess what we had??? Yep….green-lipped mussels. These mussels here in New Zealand are really something and getting them in this little town where they are so fresh is even better. We all ate until we couldn’t possibly eat another bite.
One night after watching that afternoon’s America’s Cup race we ate at the Havelock Hotel. They had live music that evening so we stuck around and even did a little dancing. Somehow we were fortunate enough to get a front row table to watch the band and the crazy characters on the dance floor. It really was quite a show that kept us thoroughly entertained. One guy we chatted with a bit was a dancing fool. He didn’t know how to dance…move like chaotic movements. All he wanted to do was dance and his wife refused so he just bounced around in the middle of everyone and with anyone who would look his way all night long. I so truly love his spirit! Keep moving my new Kiwi friend.
Our stay here in Havelock has been one we will always remember….the kind, laidback people, the amazing food and the quaint little town nestled at the foot of Mount Takorika.
There’s a bit more to the story of Havelock but we’ll save that for the next article….you’ll definitely want to check it out as it’s really big news!
Until next time,
Jilly & Dan