RECORD: 40.86kg, J Catton, Three Kings, 1971
Hapuku would be very high on any divers' "must shoot" list. These highly prized fish are very rarely shot because of the depth they usually live at. Their most distinguishing feature is their long, under-slung, lower jaw. This attaches to their their large head, and heavy, solid body. They have 10 dorsal spines covering nearly the length of their back and large pectoral and anal fins and are most easily distinguished from bass by their angular, versus rounded, fins. Usually coloured in dark blues and greys, similar to silver drummer. Hapuku may grow to four or five feet long and weigh up to 100kg.
Bag Limit: 3
Hapuku are a very rare fish in diveable waters so if you see a grouper shaped fish be very sure of what you're shooting. If it has any spots or lines or designs on it it is not a puka and is possibly protected.
FEEDING HABITS & HABITAT:
Hapuku are found throughout New Zealand on deep, rocky off-shore reefs. A predatory fish, hapuku live on squid and small fish. It is rare to find them in diveable depths but in areas such as the Chatham Islands where the large population forces fish into shallower reefs or through dumb luck they may be found by divers.
In the last 20 years no more than 5 or 6 puka have been shot outside of the Chathams. This is because of the extreme depth these fish usually live at. Realistically divers need to be able to dive past 30m and dive areas in close proximity to deep water regularly to be able to secure one of these prizes. If you are lucky enough to see a hapuku they are an aggressive fish and are relatively easy to approach.