Hunting in New Zealand

New Zealand is fast becoming one of the most favoured hunting destinations worldwide. With its breathtaking scenery and abundance of game it is the dream trip for many UK stalkers. Jim Gibson takes a look at why New Zealand has become so popular.

New Zealand Red Stag

(Above: New Zealand is renowned as being home to some huge Red's) 

New Zealand has long been considered a world class destination with its amazing scenery, freindly people, and terrific hunting.  The game population was liberated into New Zealand well over 100 years ago, and includes a broad diversity of species, including, Red Deer, Fallow Deer, Himalayan Tahr, Alpine Chamois, Sika- Sambar-Rusa- Deer, wild boar, Elk, whitetail deer, Alpine goat, wild sheep, Wallaby, Rabbit, hare, possum, turkey and approximately 14 different species of waterfowl and upland game birds.

New Zealand TahrThis insures that the country has a very diverse mix of game hunting with species originating from North America, Europe and Asia. Most of the animals are found on the South Island due to the topography being better suited to the species. There is ample opportunity for free range hunting as well as hunting on government land, private land and across various Estates.

(Left: Originally from Asia the Tahr is now reasonably widespread in New Zealand)  

With a lack of management and seasons on government land the game in these locations have become extremely wary and have become broadly nocturnal, spending most of their time in steep country.  

With its better control of both quantity and quality, private land hunting has therefore become the first choice for many and can be carried out over some superb country. The payment made to land owners for the trophy game provides a valuable return to the farmers on what are huge farming operations. In return the farmers restrict the hunting, thus creating an area that is not under constant hunting pressure and this has the added advantage of making trophies obtainable to all fitness levels and abilities. Of course due to the topography typical shooting distances tend to be a little further than in the UK with shots being taken at an average of between 150-350 metres depending on the hunter’s ability. 

For the trophy hunter it is the estates that will have the greatest pull and there are some huge animals to be had. Many will have seen photo’s of some of the spectacular Red Stags that have come from this beautiful country.

New Zealand Fallow

For those that prefer hunting a wild deer then free range is also an option. Private land affords the luxury of good road access that enable the hunter to be taken to mountain passes for elevation, which can be a big help in enabling the glassing of game for an excellent spot and stalk hunt. It is therefore private land that will provide the highest quality and numbers, and through working hard, it is possible to find some very impressive old traditional Red and Fallow deer, with Stags often displaying 10 points- 14 points.

In terms of other species the Tahr and Chamois hunts have the reputation for being extremely tough and are often marketed with the requirement that you use a helicopter to position the hunter in the best environment, hunters do in fact have a choice, however if you are restricted for time then this could be the best option, it is a fast and very exciting trip, albeit it does add some cost to the overall trip.

New Zealand Chamois

Of course for those that prefer the traditional method of hunting on foot, both government and private land options are available. However be warned, if you choose the government land your mountain fitness does have to be of a very high level, added to which there is the added risk of other hunters coming into the area that you are hunting at any stage, either on foot or by helicopter.

In terms of when to visit most of the deer species typically rut from mid March to Late April and the mountain animals between May-July, with wing shooting usually being carried out between May-July.

If you are interested in taking a trip to New Zealand or would like to learn more about hunting and the availability of game species in New Zealand then please feel free to contact Jim at New Zealand Safaris.

Jim Gibson is a Professional Hunting Outfitter and Guide and can be contacted at New Zealand Safaris. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit their website: http://www.newzealandsafaris.com for more details.

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