Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search


Game-bird Season Opening Keeps Up Kiwi Tradition

Christmas came early today for the 60,000 New Zealanders out enjoying the start of game bird season.

For game bird hunters, the first weekend of May is like another Christmas when friends and family come together for a fun day out, and for many, it’s a tradition that goes back generations.

"Opening Weekend is a high point in the rural calendar, and people from cities travel to wetlands and waterways far and wide to be part of it," Fish & Game New Zealand chief executive Corina Jordan says.

"The excitement has been building for today, and I’ve been sorting my decoys, training my dog and working on preparations, as have many of my friends and family. However, like most in Fish & Game, we spend the Opening Weekend working and supporting our ranging teams and hunters across the country. Like most of my colleagues, I’ll get my chance for a hunt in the coming days."

Jordan says feedback from hunters on the opening day has been positive.

"We could have done with some rougher weather to get the birds moving more, but it sounds like it’s been a great day with lots of birds for the table or the freezer tonight. The great thing about hunting season is there are many more opportunities to come, and conditions will improve in the coming weeks.

"We’ve had a couple of good breeding seasons, and more rain and rough weather will mean birds disperse out to ponds and other wetlands, providing more hunting opportunities.

"Regardless of what conditions we get over Opening Weekend, we know hunters will have a good time - they love getting out with their dogs and spending time with friends and family. Hunting is also a great way to get kids off their devices, out in the fresh air, teach important skills, instill a desire to protect the environment and help them learn independence.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

"Women are also increasingly getting out and having a go, and my experience is that it’s liberating. It’s time to share with your hunting buddies, but it also means you can bring back something delicious and healthy for dinner."

Regional Wrap:

Northland - Fish & Game Officer Graham Gallaghan

Good numbers of birds were seen, and some hunters were able to get close to their bag limits. A number of offences were detected, hunting with no licence and lead shot; NZ Police were out with Fish & Game Rangers and detected a few other non Fish & Game offences.

Auckland Waikato - Fish & Game Officer David Klee

There were good numbers of birds were being shot in the region despite the beautiful weather, which isn’t good for ducks. Most people checked were very happy with their harvest.

Unfortunately, there was some non-compliance on private land with people shooting more than their bag limit, using lead shot, shooting birds on ponds where ducks are fed, and using guns without the magazine restriction. One individual had four offences.

Eastern - Fish & Game Officer Anthony van Dorp

Hunters had a great day out with family and friends. Harvest was fairly average, with some doing better than others.

Fine weather deterred ducks but the hunters out were having a good day. Over 65 hunters were spoken to with only one individual without a licence. There was a large number of family groups with a mix of all ages.

Lower North Island: Fish & Game Officer Hamish Carnachan

Fine weather across the lower North Island favoured ducks on opening morning. Blue skies and light winds are not what the hunters prefer, as this allows the waterfowl to fly high in search of large water bodies where they will congregate out of reach of hunters.

Combined with the exceptional period of settled weather prior to the season and near drought conditions, the birds had a very patchy distribution.

Some hunters did very well, whereas others had to work harder, but most seemed to understand the weather was just the luck of the draw and enjoyed the tradition of getting out with friends and family, and, of course, working the dog to bring a few birds home for dinner.

Overall, hunter behaviour was very good this year, with high compliance with regulations and following safe firearm practices.

There will be plenty of hunting opportunities later in the season once the rains finally arrive in late autumn.

The main hunting season for waterfowl runs for eight weeks until Sunday, 30 June 2024, in the Wellington and Taranaki regions.

Nelson Marlborough: Fish & Game Officer Jacob Lucas

Foggy conditions across parts of the region, clear and calm conditions elsewhere plus cagey mallards and few hunters about meant tough going for hunters. One team worked in the Maruia/Murchison area, and another in Rai/Pelorus. All hunters dealt with fully compliant, but lots of places were not shot, meaning plenty of refuge areas for birds.

The hunter's harvest reflected recent Mallard counts, showing an overall decline in numbers due to spring/summer drought conditions.

West Coast: Fish & Game Officer Baylee Kersten

West Coast hunters awoke to an overcast morning and excellent hunting conditions. Those hunters encountered by rangers had good bags. Those that had focused on areas holding good numbers of birds rather than traditional opening weekend spots had done the best.

It was great to see family and friends reconnecting over the weekend and bringing new hunters into the sport.

Most hunters encountered were compliant, apart from a small group who let the team down by not having licences. The message appears to have got through regarding safety and alcohol consumption with the police presence not detecting any offences.

North Canterbury: Fish & Game Officer Richie Cosgrove

The region has suffered from dry weather, but where there was water, there were hunters, and the ducks were frequently coming in, providing hunters with plenty of opportunity.

Hunters had to be more adaptable due to the low water levels, but those spoken to were finding the hunting good.

Clear blue skies and a below-zero temperature start to the day definitely favoured the ducks. A small number of offences were detected, but a large majority of the hunters followed the rules.

Central South Island: Fish & Game Officer Rhys Adams

Two teams of rangers were out in the Fairlie area in the Makenzie District. Conditions were calm and pleasant, so the weather favours the ducks today.

Hunters have been harvesting a good number of paradise shelduck and relatively low numbers of mallard ducks.

Conditions were reasonable but some ponds that are normally hunted were dry. There was still a good scattering of hunters throughout the region.

The majority of hunters followed the rules, but there were a small number of offences, mainly possessing lead shot within 200m of water.

It's great to see quite a number of junior hunters out; in fact, most maimais had a junior.

Otago: Fish & Game Officer Bruce Quirey

Conditions on opening day in Otago have been mostly fine, with a fresh to moderate breeze near the coast and calmer further inland.

Most hunters are having a good day getting mixed bags in moderate numbers.

Bags of paradise shelduck have prevalent in the high country.

On the Taieri, some hunters have been getting good numbers of mallards, and generally, most hunters will be going home with a few birds tonight.

The compliance rate is looking good. Two adults have been issued offence notices for no licences, but otherwise, everyone else rangers have encountered has been following the rules and enjoying the day.

Southland: Fish & Game Officer Dwight Grieve

A nice breezy morning in Southland was keeping the birds low and active. Some good shooting for many ponds, especially those with decoys set for the wind. It's great to see friendly groups, including many families.

Overall, there was high compliance to go with the great attitudes encountered with only one hunter located with no licence.

Some amazing Southern hospitality with plenty of Blue cod and Bluff oysters for staff to try.

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines




InfoPages News Channels


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.