Hunting Season


A Gamebird Paradise       

The main waterfowl and upland game bird hunting season in New Zealand runs from the first weekend in May to the end of August. There is a one-month difference between water and land hunting, with the waterfowl season ending at the end of July. A hunting licence costs NZ$80, and hunters traditionally use 12 guage semi-auto shotguns to harvest their gamebirds. See Gamebirds

Birds Galore


Mallard, and paradise ducks are the principal quarry. During the main hunting season hunters may harvest the following game birds: mallard, gray and shoveller ducks; paradise shelduck; pukeko (like a coot); black swan; Canada goose; pheasant; Californian, brown and bobwhite quail; red-legged partridge and chukar. Turkey, feral geese and pigeon and peacock do not require a game bird license, and neither do small game such as rabbit, hare and wallaby.  See Hunt Information to find out about guides we use, techniques used, and prices charged.


Canada geese are a big attraction but only in limited regions. The best hunting is in Central and North Canterbury where large numbers of geese live. The birds do not migrate internationally but at certain times of the year will migrate locally between coast and inland farming areas. A large amount of crop damage occurs, and because of this a special season: February/March no bag limit period targets these pest birds. This special season coincides with the special season paradise duck time so is one of the best times on the bird hunting calendar.


Over water, non-toxic steel shot must be used, while on land 200 metres or more from water lead shot is still permitted. This latter point is good news for paradise duck hunters who often set up stands in pasture or grain fields. In December, January and February, the birds are more concentrated, providing hunters with spectacular numbers of birds. This is a mixed bag including ducks, shelduck, and feral pigeon.

Upland Gamebirds


The two main upland game birds hunted in New Zealand are pheasant and Californian quail. The best pheasant populations are within preserves, mostly in the North Island, while the greatest quail populations are the Central Otago wild coveys found in the South Island. Quail hunting occurs mostly on private land where hunter access has been granted. Guides charge clients a daily guiding fee. This same situation occurs when waterfowl hunting. There is no bird fee imposed on clients because in New Zealand game birds belong to the nation.


Turkey gobblers are another attraction for visiting international hunters. Released decades as a food source, by early pioneers there are some properties we have access to that number mainly Merriam turkeys in the hundreds. Trophy toms are relatively common, and birds in excess of 25 pounds often taken. Hunters find the no limit, no season system that operates here brilliant, and often harvest a large number of birds. The best time is September/October but most hunters prefer hunting in the duck season when other bird species can also be hunted.


Duck and Geese hunting is traditionally from hides, called maimais in New Zealand, where feeding or roosting birds are enticed from air to pond, lake, paddock, river or stream, through quality calling and large spreads of decoys. Ducks and geese in New Zealand are not following migratory paths, just flyways, so a guide is useful in putting the client on such highways through his local knowledge and experience and his access network of contacts. Jump shooting of waterways is also very successful, and for upland birds the use of top flushing dogs.


Greg: fairchase@paradise.net.nz

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