History of Huka Prawn Park
Huka Prawn Park was founded in 1987 by Aquatech Farms Ltd and is New Zealand’s only Prawn Park.
We specialise in Aquaculture, a term used to describe the propagation and rearing of aquatic animals in a controlled or selected environment. Aquatic species such as Prawns, are being raised commercially today as the wild stocks caught from the ocean are being depleted. The aim here, was to research and develop the ability to breed and grow tropical prawns in captivity using waste geothermal heat from the geothermal power station next door. The Park can not use the geothermal water directly into the ponds due to its silica content so therefore, uses heat exchangers whereby the geothermal fluid heats fresh Waikato River water to 20 degrees which is then circulates through to the ponds.
A species called Macrobrachium Rosenbergii (Giant Malaysian River Prawn) was chosen being best for commercial production, females spawn up to five times per year; a 50-gram female can produce up to 50.000 eggs. The Rosenbergii grow very fast and are ready to harvest at 8 months of age. Our largest Prawn produced here on-site was “Horse” and he grew to an amazing 68cm; he was not harvested but died of old age at 2 years old.
Earthworks first began in 1987 consisting of a large settling pond and five half-acre ponds, which are thermostatically controlled. Within one year a 4000 square foot hatchery was designed along with an associated pump-house, heat exchange installation, laboratory, administration office, workshop, food storage and preparation areas. By 1988 all the ponds were full of New Zealand Prawns – 150,000 in total.
In April 2002 earthworks began again, creating another 9 ponds, which brought the total of ponds to 19. Fully stocked, Huka Prawn Park has the ability to produce 5 tones of Prawns per year. A 3 meter Golf platform was also built enabling visitors to try their luck at our ‘Killer Prawn Golf’ Hole-in-One challenge.
In early 2006 we opened our architecturally designed bridge which has been incorporated to maximize our interactive tour route, taking visitors from the hatchery over to our fishing ponds. Our fishing area is a first in New Zealand with purpose built fishing shacks set over ponds enabling visitors to fish for prawns in all weather. Again in December of 2006, construction was completed and we opened “Shawn’s Walk” which incorporates an Interactive & Educational Hatchery Tour after which guests can stroll at their leisure through the park experiencing Shawn’s Jumping Rocks, Riverside Nature Walk which includes feeding the wild trout and a Geothermal Foot Bath where visitors can soak their feet and enjoy fantastic views of the Waikato River before entering our stunning Restaurant.
Huka Prawn Park’s alfresco Restaurant is Taupo’s only Riverside Restaurant and boasts an exceptional range of prawn meals and non-prawn meals. It also has a seating capacity of 400 guests at any one time. Children have also been catered for with a special menu and indoor/outdoor play-areas.
The production of prawns has been a long hard struggle but the rewards have been well worth the effort as this unique New Zealand venture, Huka Prawn Park, is now receiving International acclaim for its continuous success.