‘Eat at the source’ is Auckland Fish Market’s tagline - and what an accurate one it is. Perfectly situated on the very edge of the glittering Waitemata lies this celebration of New Zealand seafood; a destination where people can taste, buy, and cook with the bounty of the ocean, all while sitting just metres from it.
The market, positioned on Auckland Waterfront’s Jellicoe Street, is an institution; at over 94 years old, it was the first publicly listed company on the New Zealand stock exchange. Rumour has it that founder Albert Sanford landed in Aotearoa on New Year’s Day 1864 and was out fishing for snapper in the Hauraki Gulf the very next. His passion quickly turned into a business and the Auckland Fish Market was officially born in 1925, housing a range of dedicated fishmongers selling their catch.
Sustainable oceans for the future
At the core of the Auckland Fish Market is a continued vision for thriving, sustainable New Zealand oceans for years to come.
“Though over 100 species of fish are caught in New Zealand waters, we typically eat just five of them,” says Justine Powell, General Manager of Marketing & Consumer at Sanford & Sons.
By showcasing undervalued species, such as kahawai, trevally, moki and mackerel, as well as offering cooking classes via the Auckland Seafood School to empower the home cook - the Market encourages visitors to broaden their menus and treasure our oceans.
Eventually, the plan is to spread the demand across the fishery by reducing the focus on just the common species.
Everything is locally sourced wherever possible, with all produce, except the salmon and mussels, wild-caught from Cape Reinga to Bluff. By using long line or precision seafood harvesting, trawling is replaced by sustainable methods designed to significantly reduce environmental impact.
Justine says the Auckland Fish Market uses mostly compostable packaging and the rest recyclable, with plans to extend sustainable initiatives in place.
“We have a goal to reduce plastic use by 70 per cent, and reuse and recycle the plastics that remain necessary across operations.”
A modern refresh of a classic institution
In 2018, the famed venue was revamped, by adding a modern food-court style precinct featuring eight tempting restaurant vendors, and a courtyard bar, to showcase the market’s kaimoana through a range of different cuisines and dishes. 80 per cent of the cuisine on offer within the Auckland Fish Market incorporates the day’s catch, with some of the region’s best chefs whipping up both classic Kiwi staples and fusion dishes featuring different varieties of local seafood.
At the heart of it all, Auckland Fish Market’s Sanford & Sons Fishmonger still sees skilled fishermen proudly presenting their goods, lined up in rows and rows of vibrantly coloured glossy scales on ice. It’s this variety that keeps visitors coming from far and wide to pick up a few fillets for dinner.
The result of this approach happens to be undeniably mouth-watering. Tiki Thai serves up Thai food with a Kiwi ocean twist, like Thai trevally tacos with smoked chilli lime mayo. Mar & Tierra has perfected the art of cooking over a fiery charcoal grill, dishing up impeccable South American fusion cuisine like Anticucho swordfish skewers.
Billypot does simple ocean fare well – think garlic butter prawns sold by the dozen, and hot mussels with your choice of sauce. Market Galley’s beer battered snapper & chips with lemon & tartare is a classic, or opt for the Fijian ceviche with coconut, chilli, fresh herbs and tortilla chips.
Fans of Auckland stalwarts Azabu and Ika Bowl can now get their fix at the waterfront, with both having set up mini locations within the Fish Market. Azabu’s Japanese sushi menu reads like a dream, with whitebait and snapper dumplings just the tip of the iceberg; while Ika Bowl’s Polynesian inspired fresh poke bowls are the ideal flavoursome, healthy lunch option.
Not a fan of seafood? Despite this being a seafood lover’s dream locale, you won’t leave hungry, with offerings like Italian street food vendor Super Pizza’s Porky Pineapple Pizza with tomato, fresh mozzarella, oven-roasted ham and house-pickled pineapple. Washed down with craft beers and local wines courtesy of The Wreck, the Auckland Fish Market’s watering hole, or a scoop of Little Lato gelato and Good Karma coffee, this foodie hotspot really does have something to suit everyone’s palate.
This collaborative, up-market food court style of eating indicates a change in Auckland’s food scene, and Aucklanders seemed to have embraced it. If you’re not sure what you feel like to eat tonight, a visit to Auckland Fish Market will soon have you overwhelmed with options – and in our opinion, there’s no better dinner situation than that!