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New Zealand Big Game Hunting

New Zealand is a very popular destination for the hunting enthusiast; it hosts some of the finest trophy hunting in the world.

Throughout the 19th century British settlers introduced many species to New Zealand. The rich habitat and lush vegetation has led to many species exceeding size and population norms elsewhere. The hunting enthusiast can over-indulge in a vast variety of species from big game such as deer, pigs, wild bulls and goats, to pest species such as rabbit and possum.

New Zealand Big Game Species:
There are 12 species of big game available to the hunter in New Zealand:
Red Deer, Fallow Deer, Whitetail Deer, Sambar Deer, Rusa Deer, Sika Deer, Wapiti, Austrian Chamois, Himalayan Thar, South Pacific Goat, Wild Pig, and Wild Bulls. All provide good trophies and many have exceeded the trophy potential of their country of origin.

The Game-hunting Season runs from February to June each Year.

Red Deer:

  • Origin - England.
  • The most common and widespread deer species in the country.
  • Widely distributed in both the North and South Island.
  • Primary habitat includes dense bush country and scrub areas of large farms.
  • Red Stags rut in March and April.
  • Average trophies in the wild are nowadays 8-10 points; Private hunting blocks tend to yield much larger trophies with guaranteed success.
  • Allow approximately three days hunting time.

Fallow Deer:

  • Origin England and Northern European countries.
  • A common and widespread deer species in New Zealand.
  • Widely distributed in both North and South Island.
  • Primary habitat includes semi-open scrub country.
  • Smaller than red deer and a bouncing gait makes them a difficult target.
  • Fallow Bucks rut in May.
  • Most good trophies are shot from private hunting blocks.
  • Best trophy heads come from the Blue Mountains (South Island) herd.
  • Allow three days as hunting time.

Sika Deer:

  • Origin Japan and formerly referred to as Japanese deer.
  • Populations confined to Central North Island.
  • The Sika herd would be the largest and most important herd available to hunters worldwide.
  • Primary habitat includes areas of dense scrub.
  • Smaller than red deer and a great challenge to stalkers.
  • Their antlers exceed anything grown in their home country.
  • Allow three days of hunting.

Wapiti (Elk):

  • Origin Rocky Mountain’s.
  • Colonized in Fiordland in the South Island.
  • Primary habitat includes bush-covered, steep mountain terrain, an area completely contrasting the country Wapiti originated from.
  • The roar is from early to mid April.
  • They are available on game reserves where impressive trophies can be found.
  • Only fit and healthy people should consider hunting a Wapiti within Fiordland.
  • Allow three days hunting time.

Austrian Chamois: 

  • Origin Austria.
  • Colonized in the mountains of the South Island.
  • Primary habitat includes upper bush line and rough broken creeks and gullies.
  • They are real speedsters and provide a challenge over flat tussock country.
  • Best hunting time is April to August.
  • Trophies are world class.
  • Allow five days for hunting.

Himalayan Thar: 

  • Origin Nepalese highlands.
  • Found in the high mountains of the Central South Island, especially around Mount Cook.
  • Primary habitat includes high rocky bluffs.
  • They are extremely wary being blessed with exceptional sight Thar are extremely fast animals and a high level of fitness is required – hunting these is a real challenge.
  • Best time for hunting is from April to August.
  • Trophies are amongst the best available in the world.
  • Allow five days hunting.

Due to the increasing numbers of some game birds in New Zealand you will find more and more hunters and fisherman to put bird shooting on their activity list every season. Species: 

Pheasant (ring neck, mutant and black). Quail (Californian and Bob White). Peacock Wild Turkey –hunting season is from early spring, July through to December when the animals are all puffed up and a-strutting, limit of three birds per day. You will find these game bird species on farmland, in the North Island mainly. Duck (Mallard, Spoonbill, Native Gray and Black Swan) -hunting season is mainly form early May to July. Paradise Shelduck – hunting can be arranged from February to September, limited to 15-20 a day. Canada Goose – hunting can be arranged from February to November, no limits.

Hunting Conditions

A reasonable standard of fitness is required to tackle the native New Zealand bush. Dense rainforest, steep hills and sudden weather changes ensure a really challenging hunt. Silent bush stalking techniques are necessary.

Equipment and Supplies

Our seasons are opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere. Layered clothing with waterproofed outer layers is essential when facing the meteorological extremes that New Zealand can impose. Comfortable and waterproof boots are essential.

Guided hunting

We recommend employing guides for obvious reasons and there are a number of full time professionals hunting guides available. We only recommend guides who have all the required certificates and proper authority to hunt the land. They all have extensive knowledge of head skinning and trophy preparation.


There are usually no problems if you wish to bring a rifle to New Zealand. However, a Tourist Firearms License must be obtained from the police on arrival. It is necessary to bring your current firearms permit or license with you. Firearms themselves are not registered in New Zealand but the owner is. Most guides can provide you with rifles on request.

Hunting method

Hunting on private blocks is a fair chase and offers the excitement of tracking and the thrill of the hunt. The guides will make sure that you have a safe and enjoyable hunt. Access can be gained by four-wheel drive vehicle and the country on private land is often less difficult.


Charges for a guide vary depending on the services and species being hunted and include food, equipment and accommodation on the hunt. Trophy fees vary depending on where and what may have been done to improve bloodlines, or what the farmer has done to improve the animals numbers.

If you wish to stay in luxury accommodation and travel by aircraft or helicopter to quickly hunt several species in a short time, then this will be reflected in the cost.

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