Episode 17 - Pots of Gold
On the next episode, screening 8 July 2018 at 7pm on TVNZ 1:
Robert White and his crewman Brayden Holden catch rock lobster or crayfish off the coast of Fiordland, where Robert’s 180 pots are set. February is peak time for him and his boat Loyal.
“We’re coming up to Chinese new year. This is when lots of people get married, and they want the smaller crayfish so each guest can have one each. So that’s what we’re targeting this trip.”
His fishing ground spreads from Preservation Inlet in the south, to Breaksea Island in the north. It’s a rugged coast and exposed to big swells.
“We get a lot of rough days here but if you didn’t work these days, you wouldn’t do much fishing” explains Robert.
Luckily at the end of the day’s fishing, the men can retreat to the relative calm of Dusky Sound, where they tie up alongside a barge Robert leases near Resolution Island.
But home for Robert is two hundred kilometres away, just outside Invercargill, where Robert and his family farm red deer.
“We grow these for both velvet and trophy genetics. Because they’re pretty easy care, it gives us flexibility, which fits in well with our fishing” explains Robert.
“Korea and China are the major buyers of velvet. The market is very stable and it’s been really good to us.
Having plenty of room on the farm works well for Robert’s daughter, Nicole, who’s the current national champion show jumper.
“It started off when she was young,” explains Nicole’s mum, and Robert’s wife, Karen.
“She used to climb the deer fences and ride my pony so we bought her an old safe pony and it went from there. We keep hoping she’ll give up but it’s not happening!”
Originally trained as a fitter and turner, Robert built his boat Loyal on the farm as well, having bought the vessel as little more than a floating wreck.
“I took a year off fishing and rebuilt it the way we wanted it. She’s been in the water 18 years now, and been really good to us.”
Robert and Brayden store their freshly caught crayfish in holding pots in Dusky Sound until they have enough to fill a helicopter.
They pack the fish in dark and the pilot Dale Green lands his aircraft on the barge at first light. The chopper can take a tonne of crayfish in a single load, and Dale will do two loads this morning.
As the crayfish head off, destined for China, Robert and Brayden throw down a cup of tea before heading back out to catch more fish.
“Where we fish is one of the more rugged spots in the country, but I don’t have any trouble at all coming to work. It’s going be hard retiring!”
Find out more about Fiordland Rock Lobster here.
Read more about the deer industry in New Zealand here.
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