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.”
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)