Get Out Of The Ghetto | Issue 14

Get Out Of The Ghetto | Issue 14


Whether on a beautiful bluebird Otago day, or a nightmarishly stormy one, the quaint seaside town of Moeraki is worth a visit. Just a smidge this side of Oamaru, on State Highway 1, it’s famous for its large-ish and inconceivably spherical boulders which lie strewn around the beach – grey marbles tossed there by a grumpy giant. Local Maori legend has it that the boulders are eel baskets washed ashore from Arai-te-uru, a shipwrecked canoe. Geology has it that the boulders are septarian concretions formed from Paleocene mudstone, round because of something called mass diffusion, and uncovered slowly by the tugging tide. There’s even an old lighthouse, built in 1878. Have a good old frolic around/on/off the boulders (tide permitting), engage in some quality Instagramming and appreciate the surge of the Pacific Ocean as it brushes past your ankles.


Before things get too poetic and this turns into a Year Nine exercise in writing cheesey similes, I should mention that the best thing about Moeraki is not its unusual geological offerings, but its unexpected culinary delights. Moeraki is populated by cribs (that’s “bach” in southern vernacular) that mainly see life on weekends and in the summer holidays, and by a few permanent residents, mostly fishermen. Picturesque Moeraki Bay is peppered by barnacled vessels, which set out daily and come back laden with kai moana delights.


Waiting poised to deliver up these treats in simple and delicious fashion is Fleur’s Place, a weather-beaten waterfront restaurant and shrine to seafood. Perched on a promontory and surrounded on three sides by sea, it’s hard to imagine a quicker way to transition from ocean to plate. Fleur O’Sullivan, local legend and all-round GB, used to have a wildly successful joint in Central Otago – Oliver’s – before moving to the beach, but we’re glad she did. The place is so awesome that when the Daily Mail told British fish-guru/chef Rick Stein that he could write a travel piece on any spot in the world of his choosing, he made a beeline straight for Fleur’s Place in little old Moeraki.


We’re not talking Squiddies-esque fush’n’chups here: this is Plato-level seafood deliciousness, and the price is comparable (read: quite expensy). There’s lots of fish, of course, but also muttonbird, mussels, scallops … and lots of pretty garnishes. Choose chocolate marquise for dessert – you won’t regret it. Prepare to fight the “foodstagram” urge.

Fleur’s is a damn fine spot; the atmosphere is nowhere near as pretentious as the prices might otherwise suggest, and the seafood is about as fresh as you’ll find anywhere. Take someone you like a lot, go with an empty belly, throw student-loan caution to the westerly wind and eat Otago’s finest fruits de mer. Enjoy.

Get there: by car. There are two turn-offs: one to Moeraki proper, and another to the boulders about 1km further from Dunedin. Both are signposted.

Do: stay overnight at the motor camp if you like.

Don’t: forget to book a table.

Eat: at Fleur’s Place.
This article first appeared in Issue 14, 2013.
Posted 6:05pm Sunday 7th July 2013 by Phoebe Harrop.