New Zealand’s Tasty Tarakihi

The humble tarakihi. The tasty tarakihi. They’re a big favourite with anglers and eaters alike, and New Zealander’s catch and eat them in great numbers. Most of us are more likely to bump into them in a supermarket fridge, or at the local takeaways than out at sea. What does this unassuming and delicious little fish mean to you?

Tarakihi Fact Sheet

Scientific name: Nemadactylus macropterus
Availability: Year round (apparently easier to catch in winter)
Weight: 1-2.5kg, up to 6kg
Length: 30-40cm

Appearance: Usually silver-grey with a blue-green sheen, shading to silver and white on the belly. There is a distinctive black band between the head and the dorsal fin. The head and mouth are small, and the laterally compressed body tapers to a forked tail. The scales are moderate and firm.

Last gasps

Recreational anglers know the tarakihi well – when lifted from the water it often squeaks as air is expelled from its air bladder.

These tarakihi (Nemadactylus macropterus) are pictured in the Kapiti Marine Reserve off Kapiti Island (north of Wellington). Tarakihi grow up to 70 centimetres and may reach 45 years old. They are common around all of New Zealand and are highly sought after by commercial and recreational fishers. The species spawn in a small number of areas (East Cape, the north-east coast of the South Island and Fiordland). They live mainly over muddy or sandy bottoms and occasionally along reef edges.

Carl Walrond, ‘Coastal fish – Fish of the open sea floor’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand (accessed 19 May 2017) Story by Carl Walrond, published 12 Jun 2006

More in our Tarakihi series:

Catching My First Tarakihi

Tarakihi: Maori Facts

Recipe: Simple Baked Tarakihi With Garlic & Rosemary

 Main Image: courtesy of NIWA

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