Shellfish lovers - and some of the country's top chefs - are making the most of the annual Bluff oyster season.
Wednesday marked the start of the season - which is expected to end around August, depending on when the oyster catching quota is met.
The southern delicacy is big business due both to their taste and limited season.
Just four days into the 2017 season, deals for a dozen Bluff oysters vary in price between $19.95 and $90 as foodies make the most of the annual taste sensation.
Euro Restaurant & Bar executive chef Gareth Stewart tasted the very first oysters of the season before the sun rose on Wednesday.
He flew down to Bluff to bring back the season's first haul.
He said the oysters tasted just like normal Bluff oysters except "you're a bit more smug because you're the first".
"When they're just out of the sea they're so salty and a little bit sweet. They just taste better knowing you're out on the sea... All the big ones stay on the boat."
The downtown Auckland restaurant are doing a deal called "Euro calls your Bluff" where you can enjoy a dozen Bluff oysters for $19.95 from 12pm to 3pm during the month of March.
Stewart believed people go berserk over the shellfish because they're only available for a few months a year.
He said some restaurants charged significantly more for the oysters due to the grade they buy and increasing wholesale costs. He said a dozen premium grade oysters cost around $20 for the restaurant to purchase.
"Prices go up every year. To get a premium product you have to pay the price for it. It's the same for all the seafood because it's depleted, therefore it becomes pricier."
Soul Bar and Bistro executive chef Gavin Doyle ordered over 18,000 oysters for 500 people to gorge themselves on over Friday and Saturday. The $175 tickets to Soul's "all you can eat" lunch sold out within an hour.
Doyle said they served the oysters in a few different ways - natural, with a range of condiments including Peruvian "tigers milk" a lime, sesame seed oil and fish sauce marinade, deep fried and kilpatrick.
Despite all the fancy recipes Doyle maintained he preferred his oysters with just a squeeze of lemon juice.
"I just like the brininess. They're a lovely firm oyster with a lovely salty flavour. The Pacific one is a bit softer."
Bluff oysters are one of the star attractions at the month-long Princess Wharf Oyster Festival - at The Culpeper, Shed 22 - will deliver a month of daily oyster deals, events and a special oyster menu over March.