Kaikoura has another reason to celebrate, this time in the food department, with Hine's Takeaways being named the second best fish and chip shop in the country.
The survey, compiled by Fairfax reporters on the search for the nation's top fish and chip stops, appeared in The Press on New Year's Eve.
On the heels of some very impressive results in last year's Rankers Awards, as well as Seal Swim Kaikoura's nomination as one of the top 10 marine experiences worldwide, it should come as no surprise to hear the awards just keep coming.
But for Hine's owners Algie and Arlene Brown, the news was a shock, albeit a good one.
"We got a call from one of the locals down the road at 8am to say congratulations," says Algie.
"I said ‘what for?' - we didn't know. It was a bit of a surprise."
The family-run business is popular with tour buses including Stray, AA King and the Kiwi Experience, the latter having recently voted Kaikoura the best town in New Zealand to eat fish and chips. So it stands to reason that the shop they frequent should be up there in the rankings.
The couple believes the recent accolade was earned through feedback on various websites, along with a strong local following.
"The locals get us through the winter," says Arlene. "We do have a good word-of-mouth reputation, too."
In fact her brother who works in Australia told her about a co-worker who had been to Kaikoura and been impressed with Hine's fish and chips, not realising he was talking to the owner's brother, so good news certainly travels far and wide.
Algie and Arlene have owned Hine's for almost eight years, having bought the business from Hine Day.
The name was kept, along with Hine's secret batter recipe, which all adds to the success of the shop to this day. Algie and Arlene are the only ones who know the secret, and they plan to keep it that way.
"We had a chef in here from England once asking us for the recipe ... but we honour Hine's secret - there is lots of good banter about it."
Blue cod is the shop's biggest seller, but they offer a wide range of fish along with a good selection of other menu items, which they also believe is part of the success.
Keeping it up is hard work - Algie is in the shop most days of the week, while Arlene comes in to help during the busy periods, and works as quality control the rest of the time.
"I'm the growler, I always come in with the customer's eye - if it's not clean I'm not eating there.
"You have to keep the standards up. It's a lot of hard work." The couple employs between three and six staff depending on the need, but the basis is that it is a family-run venture.
Even 10-year-old daughter Josene is a regular behind the counter now.
"She watches and listens to us working ... one day we got busy and I heard the till behind me and it was her," says Arlene.
The couple's two other children help out when they are around too, and they have some fantastic staff who they would not be without.
They are pleased they have all been recognised as it has given them a real boost of confidence to start off the new year.
Added to the fact they have just experienced the best New Year period since before the quakes, things could not be better for Hine's going into 2014.
Hine's was pipped at the post in the recent poll by Mangonui Fish Shop & Takeaways in the Far North, while Victory Square Fish & Chips, Nelson came in third place.
Hine's has also made it to the regional finals of the national chip competition, in 2006 and 2008.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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