There is no size limit on these fish
Daily limit is 5 except Fordland marine are internal water 3
Polyprion Oxygeneios otherwise known as hapuka or grouper are a truly magnificent sight. A large, slow growing long lived species. Primarily a gun barrel grey colour with a silvery white underbelly ten dorsal spines running along its back, rounded anal and pectoral fins with a large square powerful tail the hapuku is unmistakable once seen. The lower jaw protrudes from the top and when a school approaches the white underside of this jaw is usually the first thing seen by the diver. The hapuka has very large eyes adapted for hunting and inhabiting low light conditions.
Juveniles are thought to be pelagic associating with flotsam and floating vegetation in open water, switching to demersal at about 50cm total length. These fish inhabit temperate and subtropical waters of the southern Indian and pacific oceans found in Chile/ south eastern Australia and New Zealand the adult hapuka are usually associating with some sort of structure they favour cracks caverns or caves in shallow water . Hapuka can be found in anywhere from 10 – 800 mtrs. Generally found in deeper waters 50mtrs plus there are a few exceptions such as Fiordland and the Chathams where fish can be found in much shallower water. Hapuka are veracious predators feeding on red cod, blue cod, gurnards, hoki , crabs and crayfish to name a few.
Hapuka are a large slow growing, long lived species. Maturing at 10-13 years with a life span of up to 60 years. They can grow as large as 80kg but fish around the 20-30kg mark are more common.
Hapuka are a highly rated eating fish. Fetching top dollar on the local and international market. A firm white flesh and like any fish is easily over cooked. Hapuka can be filleted or cut into steaks, the cheeks and throat are particularly good. Baked or fried but not generally eaten raw it is by for one of the nicest eating fish in our waters.
Normally found in very deep water this species is out of reach of most spearo’s . But in a few places around New Zealand these magnificent fish are in residence in shallow water. The Chatham Islands is one such place. The hapuka generally associate with some sort of structure and, if limited in number, can be cagey and not always easy to spear. Behaving in a similar manner to the med groupers they have a tendency to bolt and hide amongst the labyrinth of caves and cracks in the structure in which they are living. It is in these instances one might employ a snooping technique. Stealth is required along with a short reel gun and a torch to locate the fish hiding amongst the caves and cracks. Once the fish is speared, preferably with a kill shot it is then a matter of extraction.
When the fish are in large numbers they can be found mooching in mid water, even just below the surface. Locating them with the use of a colour sounder helps then entering the water ready for instant action. The hapukas curiosity will get the better of them and in these instances can be quite approachable and easily speared. We would recommend a longer gun for larger fish hanging on the outside of the school. It doesn’t take long for these fish to become weary and loose interest bolting into the depths or to nearby structure.