Hero photograph
 Blake Hollows bravely holding a Kōura  John Hollows.
Photo by John Hollows

Sweet As

Suzanne Middleton, Wild Dunedin —

John Hollows has a fascination with Kōura, freshwater crayfish. Deliciously sweet as they are, he no longer eats them. These endearing pond and river-dwellers are revealing their secrets in a research project managed by John at Keewai, where Kōura are farmed in forestry fire ponds.

Kōura scuttle around on their four pairs of legs and like to hide in broom, watercress and carex grasses in the ponds. They eat everything from plants to algae, insects and they’ll even have a go at fish if they come near.

Freshwater Koura — Image by: Rod Morris Photography

They’re homebodies, preferring to hang out in their own little hiding place, and if they’re taken to the other side of the pond, they’ll return home in 24 hours. In a flood they can climb out of the water and sit on a rock, and if the pond doesn’t provide what they need anymore, they will migrate overland. At night you can spot them by their glowing red eyes.

Breeding starts in December when female Kōura produce from 20 to 400 eggs which stick under their tails, then after hatching the young ones cling to their mother with their tiny pincers.

Female Kōura with eggs under tail. — Image by: John Hollows

You’ll find Kōura on restaurant menus, and John says they taste like regular crayfish only sweeter. 

John Hollows of Keewai with one of his Kōura in hand — Image by: John Hollows

But after spending so much time with them, they’re his friends, and off the menu.