Whitebait Fritters

Down south here, the whitebait season runs from 15 August until 30 November and that means I can find whitebait fritters. I’ve found that we can get awesome whitebait fritters at the Stirling Tides cafe at Fortrose so that is where we headed on Sunday. Whitebait are tiny immature fish and there’s a whole seasonal culture that revolves around the whitebait season and the catching of the whitebait. Whitebaiters have special nets and may have a “stand” at a river, and perhaps even a little cabin near a river that they go and stay in for the season.

This paragraph about whitebait is from The New Zealand Tourism Guide…

“It’s a small fish with a very big reputation as New Zealand whitebait is regarded as one of the most prized seafood delicacies in the country. Unlike European whitebait – small, whole herrings – whitebait in New Zealand are the sprats of galaxiids (slim narrow fish with forked tails, which as adults live in freshwater rivers and lakes). In this juvenile state, whitebait ‘sprats’ resemble fat translucent worms.”

from:  Whitebait — New Zealand’s Favourite Fish

Our delicious whitebait fritters (click on the gallery to view larger photos)

Fortrose is on the south coast in Southland, New Zealand about 30mins drive from Invercargill.

You can see the exterior of the cafe, the estuary, and some whitebaiters in this post which I published in early November 2017: Out in the Country and by the Sea

I’ve done several other posts about Fortrose which you can access via this link

Text by Liz, Photos by Liz and Nigel; Exploring Colour (2018)


26 thoughts on “Whitebait Fritters

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        1. I love sticky date pudding and they’ve got it on the menu but on the occasions when we go there I always eat something substantial and then don’t feel like dessert. We’ll have to go there sometime for coffee and dessert!

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          1. That’s what I always tell my husband, too. But I think he would prefer to order the main course, and I would go straight to the dessert (between the two of us, I have a serious sweet tooth, just in case you hadn’t noticed 😊).

            Liked by 1 person

  1. I love whitebait fritters. We rarely get whitebait here and the ones that we do see occasionally in restaurants are usually like small fish.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the standard of their writing had dropped off at that point.. whitebait just look like miniature tiny fish, not worms.. and after a hard days photography you’d relish one of these plate-sized fritters! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Ha! If you had the opportunity to try one of these delicious fritters and turned your nose up it would be your loss and others’ gain – I’m sure you wouldn’t let that happen! Seriously, I rang the cafe before we went, to check whitebait was on the menu that day. She advised me to book our whitebait meals ahead to ensure they didn’t run out of whitebait before our arrival. Very popular menu item.


    1. Really delicious! The Mataura River that goes through our area is a big river. There’s some areas that have lots of wee cabins dotted about. Usually forlorn, at this time of year they come alive!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh how fun….
        and delicious – oh and the photo of the food with the person in the background was extra fun. The food was super clear and a nice subject – but the smiling woman added a custom and personal touch.

        Liked by 1 person

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