Summer Diving

by | Apr 9, 2019 | What's Happening

Since the last updates and since hunting season finished at middle of August, the focus has very much been on ocean activities. Aidan has for the past couple of years pushed our spear fishing to another level, which I initially had no plans of doing. If you click into the blog archive above, you’ll find a post I did in January 2013. Well, the pole spears have long since been upgraded to big spearguns and while I still like to stick to the inshore waters, Aidan has gone into open water and far off shore. That has also lead to several shark encounters amongst many exciting dives he’s had. His breath- hold and hunting techniques have taken giant leaps. While I still prefer doing my diving with a bottle on my back, I’ve had to keep him company with the freediving too. He has also been very lucky to have a couple of good mates who are also keen spearos. He has had several trips to the Hen & Chickens Islands, also overnight, as well as a couple of trips to the Mokohinau Islands some 60 km offshore.-

The pic above is one Aidan caught on his Go-Pro of a Bronze Whaler shark coming to check what Aidan’s mate Dylan has at the end of the spear. It’s Dylan’s fin to the right in the picture. (Click to enlarge.) Aidan has had both Bronze Whalers and a Mako shark taking fish off his spear. He has grown quite relaxed about having them around. At certain areas and times of the year the sharks are expected to turn up around spearos. In particular they seem to get excited when it’s pelagic species like kingfish, kahawai, trevally and koheru but also species like porae and butterfish. Aidan also lost a pink maomao to a Mako at Groper Rock, a very exposed spot at the Mokohinaus and known to host many big sharks.

Kingfish, snapper, trevally and pink maomao from a trip to the Mokohinau Islands. On that trip Aidan and his mate Liam got to meet one of their spearfishing idols, the guy who has Aquatic Rehab. He arrived at Groper Rock simply to get some big Bronze Whalers on film. The photo below is one he posted from that day.

The photo is from Kerepuru Sounds in Marlborough Sounds, where we spent several days in January towards the end of our family road trip in the South Island. After new year celebrations with friends in Blenheim we kicked off 2019 with a couple of dives on the Kaikoura coast. As expected there were plenty of seals around. On the first dive I also had my first encounter with a conger eel. They’re much more common down south and it was a big one too, looking for the same as we were; crayfish. The two pics below are from the second dive.

Near Bluff, at the far southern end of NZ, we also wanted to get some Pāua (abalone) as there’s been a ban in place on the Kaikoura coast since the earthquake. At Bluff the weather and sea conditions were too bad so we had to wait until we came up further north near Picton. We had a nice dive there and I got to dish up a beautiful meal.

For me the cooking of seafood and wild game has become the great motivation, in addition of course to keep enjoying the outdoors. Above some nice scallops on the BBQ. We have also brought Finn out in the harbour, for some fishing and for him to have a go at gathering scallops. Still not mad about it like we are but he’s still enjoying being out in nature. End of season we still got our limits. Below is a few more pics of the mad keen Aidan, left; cray & butterfish nice snapper and a recent afternoon dive providing a porae, octopus and some more scallops. We do regularly come across octopus and occasionally we take them. During the times we have spent in Spain and Portugal we really got the taste for octopus and the knack of how to cook them right. Aidan’s favourite seafood is scallops, while I really couldn’t say.

Above some large snapper Aidan has photographed with his Go-Pro in excellent blue water visibility.

Finally, we remember our wonderful setter Northstream Blue Belle. Bred from my own dogs Wingfield Warrior and Lapphaugen’s Moulin at Whangarei Heads in 2004. Dogs have come and gone and enriched our lives over the years but Bella became very special. Like her predecessors she was used on a variety of game; various ducks, brown & Californian quail, pheasants, turkeys, peacocks and even rabbits and hares. When I shot a brown quail over her as the final bird of the 2017 season I thought that was it. But we still got some nice months in the field in 2018. On the last day hunting, early August, the last bird shot over her was a pheasant. Sadly, we had to bid farewell in late September. Her ashes will be spread in the same forest where her mother also forever hunts.

F-T Olsen with Bella, photographed by Aidan, August 5th 2018