What was unthinkable seven months ago will become a reality this weekend when the flood-stricken Anatoki Salmon opens again for business.
The premier Golden Bay tourist attraction was almost wiped out by a huge landslide in June following heavy rain in the region. It will reopen this Saturday with a festival event around music and salmon tasting, co-owner Jan Dissel said.
"People can come out for a picnic and catch a fish. The beer will be cold and the cafe will be up and running. There will also be salmon tastings and we have a few new flavours of smoked fish," Mr Dissel said.
The Dissels fought through the night during the storm in mid June to salvage the remnants of their freshwater salmon farm after a slip obliterated the farm housing between 50,000 and 70,000 adult and young salmon.
The freshwater stream that supplied the farm had been blocked by the landslide, which had then covered the farm.
Mr Dissel then struggled to save between 60,000 and 80,000 salmon eggs and salmon fry in the hatchery, after their vital water supply had been cut off by the landslide.
He managed to save the juvenile fish in the hatchery after diverting fresh water to the hatchery by duct taping guttering from the roof of their house and "piping" rainwater to the area.
More than 35,000 fish either died or escaped into the [Anatoki] river. Nelson-based New Zealand King Salmon has helped replenish stocks.
The dejected couple then wondered if they would be able to open this coming summer season, given the scale of the cleanup and repair.
A groundswell of support from the public, industry and the district council has made sure the business would be ready to open for this season.
"It was a nightmare experience and an enormous cleanup, but we are back in business," Mr Dissel said.
He said the public will notice improvements around the now pristine site, including a new shelter and new seats.
"Thanks to the effort of many volunteers, plus the Takaka Volunteer Fire Brigade, the Tasman District Council and the generosity of locals we were able to save some of the stock and to reopen before summer," Mr Dissel said.
He said all of the earthmoving and groundwork was done by Sollys and New Zealand King Salmon supplied them with 15,000 young salmon smolt from their hatchery nearby.
"We still need this coming week to get everything nice and tidy, but we're getting there," Mr Dissel said.
He said new signage will guide visitors to the Golden Bay farm for the festivities which will be held over the whole weekend.
- © Fairfax NZ News