Anatoki Salmon

September 2017

Tourism and aquaculture at Anatoki Salmon

Anatoki Salmon is an innovative fish farm business that combines farming with tourism - and takes salmon from the pond to the plate.

The business began back in December 1998 and was running as Golden Bay Salmon Fishing Ltd. In August 2000 it was granted the licences and consents for the farm to be completed and the very first salmon stock was introduced.

The company began trading as Anatoki Salmon Farm in July 2001 and was purchased in May 2005 by Jan and Gerda Dissel.

The Dissels have developed the business to a popular tourism attraction where visitors catch their own freshwater salmon – and then have the option of getting it cooked, smoked or sashimi.

The tourist attraction was almost wiped out in 2013 following heavy rain in the region. It reopened about three years later with a festival event around music and salmon tasting, co-owner Jan Dissel said.

"People can come out for a picnic and catch a fish. The beer will be cold and the cafe will be up and running. There will also be salmon tastings and we have a few new flavours of smoked fish," Mr Dissel said.

The Dissels fought through the night during the storm in mid June to salvage the remnants of their freshwater salmon farm after a slip obliterated the farm housing between 50,000 and 70,000 adult and young salmon.

They have since bought the adjacent nature park and cafe that is home to tame eels. Jan and Gerda Dissel unveiled the new "family park" and pancake cafe and its new name is Anatoki Eels. The park and cafe was formally called Wild Earth.

The acquisition of the nature park extends their operation at Anatoki Salmon, which will run in conjunction with the fishing. Gerda says new additions to the family park included an eel museum detailing the long history of the tame eels at Anatoki, a large sandpit and a variety of giant life-sized family games like Guess Who, Checkers and Pick-up Sticks.

The large animals such as the donkey and the llamas are no longer at the park, however the small petting animals have remained.

Gerda said the idea was for people to be able to spend a whole day between both venues.

"They can start at Anatoki Salmon and go fishing and then they can come over to Anatoki Eels and have a drink, a pancake, see some animals and play some games. "We have a screen set up at Anatoki Eels so people can see when their fish will be]ready, and they can eat the fish at Anatoki Eels too if they want."

Jan said the new menu boasts large European-style pancakes with a variety of delicious toppings. He expected to have at least 15 staff working at both venues over the busy summer period. "The atmosphere over here is so great, there is such a relaxed feeling," Gerda said.

"It's an add on to Anatoki Salmon. We understand from the former owner when it was Bencarri Farm Park that it was always their idea to have both businesses as one."

The eel museum details historic photos of the McCullum family, in particular Maggie McCullum, who first started feeding the eels as a teenager more than one hundred years ago.