A day on the water beats any day in the office, writes Carl Muir.
Anyone close to me will know there is one way to my heart: Take me out on the ocean, put a fishing rod in my hand and feed me fresh seafood. Nothing comes close to recharging the batteries than a good day out on the water. So checking out and writing about The Coromandel’s newest luxury charter operation Next Level Adventures was my kind of assignment. With two very high spec’d sportfishing boats, top of the line fishing gear and a full time chef this operation is set to turn some heads. Next Level Adventures is based in the new marina in Tairua Harbour. With a sleek looking 50ft launch for luxury live-aboard fishing holidays and big game fishing, and a fast 9m pontoon vessel for day trips to the famed Aldermen Islands, they’ve got all bases covered. A professional looking office at the entrance to the marina says it all: These guys mean business! Arriving at the Next Level base, skipper Nick fired up the cappuccino machine and we talked about the day ahead. We studied the marine charts for the enviable playground that lies due east of Tairua’s pristine harbour. New Zealand’s hard fighting yellowtail kingfish were on the agenda. We’d be fishing for them primarily with lures around the continental shelf wide of the Aldermen Islands. It is well known for producing some of New Zealand’s biggest kingfish. It sounded perfect. We blasted out at a good rate of knots Skyline, the smaller of the two boats on
offer, but at a generous 9m in length and with twin 225HP outboards on the back, it was perfectly set up for sport fishing in comfort. Skipper Nick kept an eagle eye on the electronics on board and called out “Kingfish at 40m”. The multi-coloured braided line, with different colours every 10 metres, made putting my lure in the zone effortless. Pretty soon I was hooked up on a freight train of a kingfish. Kingfish can be caught year round in New Zealand and grow to world-record size. This one did everything possible to pull my arms off and earn his freedom but five minutes later, we had him boat side. Having already released a few smaller fish, this one was carefully dispatched on salt ice for Next Level’s chef Nathaniel aka ‘Nadz’ to turn into sashimi back at base. Next on the agenda was some scuba diving. The Coromandel coast is well known as having some of New Zealand’s best scuba diving. The Aldermen Islands rival the Poor Knights in both terrain and marine life. Today, we weren’t just looking, we were gathering a feast for ‘Nadz’ to cook up for us back in Tairua. Pretty soon I noticed the tell tale feelers of a crayfish (NZ's spiny red lobster) poking out from underneath a rock. I charged in after it and secured a tasty feed of crayfish for what was becoming a bit of a feast. Next on the agenda was scallops and this time skipper Nick dropped us in at the beautiful Opito Bay. A very cruisy dive along a sandy bottom and we both had our quota of 20 scallops each, plus a share for our friendly crew on top. There is nothing sweeter in life than opening a scallop fresh out of the ocean while you are still in your dive gear and eating it au naturale! Blasting back along the coastline, we spotted all the likely spots the rest of the tourists come for: Hot Water Beach, Orua Cave and Cathedral Cove. We got to see
all of these from another perspective, smarting that we were enjoying a day that the crowds could never imagine! Back at base, chef Nadz was prepped and raring to go. Our catch was broken down and filleted before our eyes. A four course kingfish feast awaited: Kingfish sashimi, Cajun kingfish kebabs, kingfish ika mata and smoked kingfish wings. Macadamia-crumbed scallops and freshly steamed crayfish topped off the perfect feast. “I love fresh ingredients,” says Nadz. Yes, and they don’t come much fresher than this! If you’re wanting a truly special on the water Coromandel experience, where you get to sample your catch of the day then you can’t go past Next Level Adventures