Fleur Sullivan – Fleur’s Place

Fleur Sullivan

Update 2024 – As a Woman In Seafood

On the 6th December 2021 my 13 employees had to decide to have a Covid vax or not, so we could legally “ stay open “ and follow the Government mandate for restaurants like mine.

(We had had information from local Doctors and the Nurses who administered the vaccine over the previous two months to answer their questions.)

I think if it had been mandated at the beginning of the winter months a percentage would have vaxed, but a long hot summer looked pretty good, to leave with the next 4 weeks of average weekly income + holiday pay, days in lieu, public holidays etc. Some chose to say but not enough through the next very busy fortnight or the busiest months of the year, Late Dec till around Anzac Day 2022.

I knew when I locked up that night on the 6th Dec 21 ‘Fleur’s Place in Moeraki’ was broken. I probably have never felt so lonely in my life.

Fleur Sullivan

We were completely stocked up to the gunwales, thousands of dollars (still to be paid for) huge cartons of serviettes, Fleur’s Place and Fleur’s Recipe Books (6 months supply), wine, spirits, liquors, mixers, dry goods, our vacuumed packed smoked fish, marinated and smoked mussels, potted smoked eel, titi rillettes, chicken liver pate, new tea towels, aprons, all our ‘in house’ made pickles, chutneys, jams, quince paste, Aunty Marie’s Xmas puddings, new pans, all the oils. All our automatic fortnightly deliveries, it was like expecting to pull up a ‘full steam ahead’ ship on a dime.

After the lockdowns there was a noticeable change in peoples attitude to the old work ethic of ‘5 days a week, 9 till 5 plus overtime’. This seemed to be happening all over NZ and now NZ and the world has changed.

It was so sad, personally phoning and going thru the 2022/ 2023 diaries and cancelling all our bookings. It took weeks and was very soul destroying.

I am a “paper” person and I will share a little secret, I still have 20 odd years Oliver’s in Clyde diaries and now Fleur’s Place diaries, and stranger still, I can open anyone of them at any page and reminisce over that day. The diaries take up a lot of space as each one has newspaper clipping relating to the day of the week. They have taken up a lot of space in my life.



Moeraki, Otago

Fleur D.R. Sullivan

The Walruss & the Carpenter Ltd. t/a Fleurs Place

My life in Moeraki and my entry into “Women in Seafood” came via a serious commitment to sourcing and serving naturally good food from the region, wherever I have lived. This started from the time a great Aunt squirted the milk from the cow’s teat into my mouth, when I was about five years old, I guess.

I came to be a quota holder, a client of M.A.F. 9790666, a licensed fish receiver, a dealer in fish, with monthly returns (and fined $400 when you make a mistake). The owner of multiple walk-in freezers, chillers, vacuum packers, knives, fish scalers, hoses with complicated nozzles, sawdust, fish smokers, scales large and small, stainless steel and more stainless steel, gumboots and steel caps and a truck. Purely because I had a few beers with a couple of fisherman at the local pub, got invited out on their boats and told to bring lunch “as long as it’s not smoked chicken”. Do they have a toilet was my only concern, as I packed the smoked chicken for lunch. No, there wasn’t a toilet but I was told I was lucky as blokes have to watch the seagulls.

My first trip I found I had good sea legs – this has stood me in good stead as I’ve needed them for the last 17 years or so. On that first trip they suddenly remembered it was raffle night at the pub so we headed for home. They asked me to steer the boat for the Bluff Hills, strange way home, I thought, turned the boat around and headed for Bluff. These guys can move quite fast. Me oblivious to the importance of the propeller when doing a sharpish turn with bits still hanging over the side and the guys with their heads down, using sharp knives and thinking of the meat raffles at the pub. I soon found out there is an area called The Bluff Hills to the right side of the entrance to the Moeraki Harbour. At the fisherman’s wharf I said my thanks and invited them and whanau to dinner. The day came, I’d made a large paella, salads and breads and bought the beer. I waited and waited and then rang the pub, they were all there fortifying themselves for the ordeal.

Watching the fish and the bits that went over board that day was a whole new world for me, I really only needed to save the leftover bits to make a beautiful healthy seafood stock. Now, 17 or so years later there are around 18 staff and $44,000 rates a year to pay in this small village (population around 60 permanent residents). Business operators often are curious about how I have accomplished this world renowned restaurant, hard to find, tucked in and out of the way with no signage.

Fresh food sustainably produced. Our fish – mainly from the Moeraki boats, still wriggling when I get it in the tubs. Shell fish in abundance harvested in Otago and Southland. I expect all our food to be treated with respect, cooked quickly, simply and served as naturally good food.

Nau mai, haere mai.


P.S. I know I am world famous in Beijing, population 22 million. Me, Valerie Adams and the Major of Auckland. I hear this from around the 10% of this city that has been here to visit and have their photo taken with me.


Donna Wells

By Donna Wells

Donna Wells is the Director and Owner of FinestKind Ltd. We are a New Zealand company selling seafood and sourcing quota on behalf of independent owner operators and companies.

FinestKind Limited

137 Vickerman Street,
Port Nelson, New Zealand

Phone: +64 3 545 6964
Mobile: +64 27 243 1282

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