The Huka Prawn Park is located along the banks of Waikato River only a short drive from Taupo’s main town center. Prawns (for my friends that do not know) are similar to shrimp and often found on menus around New Zealand. Sure they are different species but they have a lot of similarities. Since my girls are obsessed with eating shrimp this placed seemed to be right up their alley.
Shawn, the prawn mascot, greeted us at the front entrance. Ella was excited to get to meet him!
The prawn farm is larger than expected so we took a staff member’s advice to start with a behind the scenes tour of the prawn hatchery and nursery. We were able to view the prawns up-close with the magnified viewing lens. We learned they were the Macrobrachium Rosenbergii species or Giant Malaysian River Prawn which were ideal for commercial production. The nursery gave us a look at the at the babies and we even had an opportunity to feed them. Watch out it tickles! This tour was informative and worth the extra time especially given they give tips on how to catch them.
Following the tour we were directed out to pick-up a rod and bait and try our hand at fishing them. The prawns are tricky little creatures and I spent a great deal of my time baiting hooks instead of fishing myself. Ella could careless if she caught any and gave up pretty quickly after the prawns kept stealing her bait. Aubrey caught one and she was over the moon! Andrew lucked out and caught two! They give you a bucket of ice water which stuns the prawns allowing for hook removal. They swallow the hook so this can be a tricky task (at least according to Andrew).
The facility has onsite boilers available for quick cooking and eating. Since we only caught 3 in total there was no need to take them with us. The girls devoured them only leaving Andrew a little bite.
The all day park pass includes an activity path that loops around the remainder of the park. The bush walk along the Waikato River has a kid treasure hunt based on spotting “Shawn the Prawn” banners. Other activities are trout feeding, playground, prawn bikes, water games and more, The geothermal foot baths set-up along the walk was a highlight for me!
There is a restaurant onsite too that I heard good things about but never had the opportunity to experience. Before we left the park, Ella said one last goodbye to Shawn the prawn. We had not intended to stay at the park several hours but there were so many great activities for the kids. This was a delightful day full of new experiences!