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From sex crazed super prawns to spin-outs on the Waikato - sweet as!

March 20, 2007
From sex crazed super prawns to spin-outs on the Waikato - sweet as!

As prawns go Shawn is an awesome sexual performer. In the quirky world of Huka Prawn Park, Taupo, a male prawn has seven partners. Each female can breed at five months and produce up to 80,000 babies.

So Shawn with the help of some other randy male mates keeps prawn production boiling along at the one billion a year mark.

Your correspondent understands that in polite prawn circles boiling is a bad choice of words but in the end that is what this Out There piece of Kiwi ingenuity is about. When one of the massive outdoor ponds is slowly drained about 30,000 big prawns are harvested by staff.

Shawn and his family have an Asian background and to prevent them getting too big, tough and tasteless their environment is controlled from day one to dinner plate.

As we followed our guide on a tour of the pioneering park we were shown a pickled prawn which underlined just how big tough prawns can be. To illustrate the point the deceased is referred to as Horse. Enough said.

The proper controlled result is a pleasant, faintly nutty prawn feast. We spent $116 for three generous plates of prawns at lunch in the Huka Prawn Park restuarant which gives a real insight into the market value of farming Shawn.

The going rate for raw prawns like Shawn is about $60 a kilogram we were told.

Huka Prawn Park is a working attraction on the banks of the Waikato River minutes from Taupo which makes use of carefully treated waste thermal water. A thermal powerhouse and gleaming pipes steam just outside the Prawn Farm boundary fence.

30,000 prawns  came from this pond
30,000 prawns came from this pond

So there is plenty of thermal water to spare in this New Zealand geothermal hot-spot but controlled environment is critical. A few degrees wrong in the tanks and Shawn's world dies. So cooling and water treatment are major cost factors in raising prawns.

Sadly the New Zealand Koura is not in the breeding race with its Asian competitor. There is a local in a tank near the Sexy Shawn and friends, but we assume that is for erotic training purposes.

We toured the breeding tanks and fed the multitude of babies with an arm in the tank serving dinner pellets from our hands. This was a creepy experience like the tiny touch of many ants on the skin.

Fortunately baby Shawns do not follow through with a bite. We even got down to working out how many prawns were in the tanks.

This is done by averaging the number of prawns scooped up in a known amount of tank water against the known volume of water in the tank being figured out.

The totals are staggering. For example Larvae Total in Tank 2 showed on the busy chalkboard as 814,400.

Each female prawn can have up to 80,000 babies
Each female can have up to 80,000 babies

Huka Prawn Farm is a natural progression along Huka Falls Rd to Wairakei Park after the essential viewing of what is said to be New Zealands most visited free natural attractions Huka Falls.

But as the Prawn Parks clever marketing points out once you see a million litres of water fly off a cliff once you need to pick up the excitement a bit.

So this leads to Shawn's Walk which after the Nursery and Hatchery heads outdoors to a stroll, a chance to fish for prawns, prawn bikes which through visitor pedal power hose water jets to varied height and distance.

This inevitably turns into a mines bigger the yours competition and is certainly good for a laugh.

There is a kids adventure walkway, a water compass, Shawn's Guantlet which is about getting the right stepping stone.

A prawn called Horse Taupo Prawn Farm
A prawn called Horse Taupo Prawn Farm

Mosquito Bridge, we didn't really get that. The trout feeding platform is beside the Waikato River. Fish food is provided and the silvery fish that flash about for feeding are big. Although it's hard to see why they are hungry when they get a regular banquet of excess prawn larvae too.

Then there is Shawn's Photo Board for the must have photo of family and friends plus a Geothermal footbath. Killer Prawn Golf is another diversion which sends golf balls flying into the prawn ponds.

And so to the comfortable Prawn Park restaurant. It overlooks the Waikato and the rush of the Huka Falls jetboat ride.

This charge for the excitable rockets upstream on the Waikato toward the falls at speeds up to 80kmh past the WairakeiThermal Power Station (the first in the world) and the Aratiatia Dam which is another attraction in the Taupo sphere of interest. Hukajet allows passengers to give it a whirl.

Big prawn on the  grow
Big prawn on the grow

This translates in thepurpose-builtaluminium hull thundering into a 360deg spin under the 380 litres a second thrust of its Hamilton jet unit.

This massive jet thrust is punched through thejet like a rampant firehose by an8.2 litre Chev V8 which, instep with the pristine Waikato, runs on LPG.

The Hukajet drivers complete 120 hours of training before they thrill their first passengers.

If you ride the jet in winter wear warm clothes, hat and gloves. Spray jackets are provided in the cooler months. So from Sexy crazed super prawns to spin-outs on the Waikato Taupo Prawn Park is right Out There.
Sweet as!

Huka Falls Jet Boat heads  upstream at lift -off
Huka Falls Jet Boat heads upstream at lift -off
Huka Falls crashes down
Huka Falls crashes down
Prawn Farm Tour Team learn about breeding tanks
Prawn Farm Tour Team learn about breeding tanks
Prawn fishing Taupo Prawn Farm
Prawn fishing Taupo Prawn Farm
Randy bull prawn Taupo Prawn Farm
Randy bull prawn Taupo Prawn Farm
Thermal power station Taupo
Thermal power station Taupo
Too big  and they are tough eating
Too big and they are tough eating