New Zealand Chinook History
The Chinook (King) salmon Oncorhynchus tschawytscha found in New Zealand today were successfully introduced by the Marine Department in the hope of starting a commercial rod fishing and canning industry although this never developed. Those introductions were from the Baird Fish Station on the McLeod River (a tributary of the Sacramento River in California) to a hatchery on the Hakataramea River between 1901 and 1907. Chinook salmon became established with self-sustaining returns to rivers on the east coast of the South Island and to a minor extent on the west coast of the South Island. Further imports of live salmon into New Zealand have not been permitted for over 50 years. We are extremely lucky in New Zealand to have ended up inheriting one of the most beautiful and spectacular fish in the world. We will be forever grateful to the people of the Sacramento River.
Our Baby Salmon
We are one of the founding members of the Salmon Smolt New Zealand hatchery in Kaiapoi. The hatchery is situated on a spring-fed stream just north of Christchurch. On the farm we select our best female salmon to breed with the best male salmon in the hatchery. This selective breeding ensures we grow salmon with only the best culinary characteristics. All our salmon are Chinook, also commonly known as King Salmon, and are hatched in late May. They are grown at the hatchery for 6 months until they are trucked back to the farm in November at around 30 grams average weight. They then spend anywhere from 17- 27 months on our farm until they reach our harvest weight of 3.0 – 5.0kg. King Salmon do no need to spend any of their life cycle in saltwater in order to reproduce, but salmon that are in saltwater must spend some of their lifecycle in freshwater in order to reproduce.
Our Salmon Food
Our feed is especially formulated for salmon to thrive in the Mackenzie High Country environment. We have two feed suppliers (Ridley and Skretting) who make our feed in Tasmania, Australia. Both companies have the highest accreditation for sustainability under the ‘Best Aquaculture Practise’ framework which is one of the most well-respected third-party accreditation companies in the world. This ensures that all our salmon food is made sustainably and to the highest possible standard.
Salmon farmed in New Zealand eat a diet formulated by international experts in fish nutrition, which is specially blended and balanced to meet all the dietary requirements of the salmon. It has everything needed to care for and grow healthy fish - fish meal, fish oil, plant proteins and oils.
Some producers also incorporate nutritional components derived from animals raised by meat and poultry industries for human consumption. Incorporating these other ingredients decreases the reliance on marine resources which lets the salmon industry grow more salmon with less resources. This is about sustainability and the responsible use of the resources available.
Salmon get their pink colour from a compound called astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is an antioxidant that is essential to a fully balanced diet for healthy salmon growth. The astaxanthin fed to farmed salmon is identical to the nutrient that salmon would get from a diet in the wild.
To view the Feed Diagrams from our current suppliers, please click the links below:
Flavour Profile & Nutrition
The constant flow of water throughout our farm makes our salmon “fitter” than sea-run salmon, resulting in a firmer flesh and cleaner taste. It is perfect for all dishes - sashimi, sushi, baked, fried, cured and smoked. Once filleted and vac-packed, our lean salmon freezes particularly well and will still be high quality even after months in the freezer.
High Country salmon is an excellent source of Omega-3s, as well as being high in protein and an excellent source of selenium, iodine, vitamins A, B1, B3, B6, B12 and D. Omega-3s are a family of polyunsaturated fatty acids that we must get from diet. They are termed essential fatty acids because they are needed for health, but the body can’t product them on its own like other fats. A 150g portion of king salmon provides 5-6 times the recommended daily intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Omega-3s have health benefits including aiding heart and joint health, brain and eye development in young children, and sustaining a healthy mind at all stages of life.