Good planning will make your New Zealand hunt a breeze to execute.
I was overwhelmed and pretty stressed out while planning our trip to the South Island. But from the time I got to the airport until I returned home again, the trip was pretty dang effortless.
That might come as a surprise considering that I completely forgot to fill out a couple of forms until the last minute and missed my connection after re-entering US Customs on the return flight. On the whole though, the trip was easy, and the experience was priceless.
Here is a quick and dirty breakdown of how to plan your travel logistics for your DIY hunt-of-a-lifetime in New Zealand.
Remember, it may seem like a lot at first, but if you follow the steps as they are laid out, you won’t have anything to stress out about.
First Things First
If you haven’t read through the previous articles in the New Zealand...
“If I had to choose one single criteria for choosing a hunting partner in Alaska, I would choose someone with a consistently positive attitude.
If you want to have a great time and increase your odds of success no matter where or what time of year you are hunting, hunting with a partner who can always see the bright side in life is not only enjoyable, but those kinds of folks typically keep going - even when things get tough.
Choosing someone who can maintain a positive attitude and hike a lot is a great recipe for a successful hunt.”
This is advice that I often give for pretty much all of the Alaska how-to content that I put out. I truly believe that it's good advice because at the end of every hunt, your partner’s attitude will always have a significant effect on the hunt -- good or bad.
I don’t know about you, but given the choice, I’d choose a good attitude over a bad one.
New Zealand is a bit...
With a dozen big game species and a variety of habitats from glaciated mountains to coastal plains to thick, dark forests, New Zealand has a huge amount of variety for the keen hunter. You would be hard pressed to hunt every game animal in every habitat, even if you stayed hard after it for a couple of months.
In addition to the dizzying variety, every hunter has to choose for his or herself what weapon they will hunt with and what hunting strategy or strategies they will utilize on their hunt. For some this will be easy, for others it might be a bit more of a difficult decision. Here are a few tips to help you choose.
Unless you are a diehard muzzleloader hunter like good ol’ Jim Shockey, the choice of what weapon to take will generally come down to and decision between rifle vs bow.
Bowhunting is (unfortunately) not a very popular pastime in New Zealand. When I landed in Christchurch on my first trip to New...
They say that timing is everything. Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but it’s hard to deny that timing in hunting, as well as almost every other aspect of life, is critical if you are trying to stack the odds of success in your favor.
If you are trying to figure out when to go to New Zealand, there are three basic criteria that I suggest considering in order to make your decision -- the seasons, the weather and the rut. Let's take a quick look at each one and I'll offer my recommendations on how to prioritize each one.
One of the most exciting aspects of hunting in New Zealand for the Northern Hemisphere (American) hunter is the ability to hunt prime fall hunting seasons during the off season.
In case you didn’t know...March, April and May are fall in New Zealand, while September, October and November are New Zealand’s springtime.
To add to the list of opposites, in New Zealand the sun rotates...
Where should you hunt is often the first question that people ask when planning a hunting adventure away from home. Here is some high level information to help get you started.
The country of New Zealand is split into two major islands, the North Island and the South Island.
Between the two major islands and its smaller offshore islands, New Zealand has approximately 20 million acres (over 80,00 kilometers squared) in some form of public ownership. This represents almost 30% of New Zealand’s land mass.
A large portion of these public lands exist in the form of Forest Parks, Conservation Parks and National Parks -- all of which allow hunting, with a few exceptions. This creates an incredible amount of opportunity for all hunters, both kiwis and foreigners. The challenge is figuring out where to hunt!
For starters, its best to determine which main island you will focus on. Although you could definitely...
There are a whole pile of non-native critters that have been introduced into the wilds of New Zealand and are considered “noxious animals” by the Department of Conservation (DOC).
All large mammals in New Zealand are open for hunting year round, with very few exceptions.
Here is a partial list of those animals. These are the more popular species among hunters:
Lets jump in and take a look at each one as a possible target species for a DIY hunter.
Location -- South Island
Public Land, DIY Opportunity -- High
Himalayan Tahr are a fantastic mountain game animal. They are quite literally the king of the mountain...as long as that mountain is located in the Southern Alps of New Zealand.
Tahr are a large wild goat with a full bristling mane and a...
Mountain hunting can be a disease for those afflicted.
If you have ever been on a true mountain hunt, then you might know a bit of what I'm talking about.
Here is the way I see it...
Goats and sheep live in the mountains, usually above treeline and often in crazy, cliffy, gnarly, high mountain country. Pursuing goats and sheep in that amazing country gives the hunter a rare glimpse into a landscape and ecosystem that as humans we just don’t venture into often. This is the mountain hunting experience.
Once a hunter has gotten a taste of those high windswept ridges, craggy peaks, and alpine basins dotted with tarns and scree chutes, it's hard to get the memory of that hunt -- that amazing country and the beautiful animals that live up there -- out of your head.
Combine that experience with the hard physical exertion that is required to reach those places, which produces endorphines in your brain - kinda...
The mountains of New Zealand are steap and rugged - even by Alaska standards. Here is what you need to know in order to survive your hunting adventure in the Southern Alps.
If you are going to hunt New Zealand, you can hunt the mountains, or you can steer clear of the big stuff and hunt the hill country. Real quick, here are the species that will likely take you into big mountain country...
Tahr and chamois are definitely included as ‘mountain game’ and live on the east and west coasts of the Southern Alps. Red deer are often found in the alpine, so they would qualify as well. Fallow deer and most of the other deer species (Sika, Rusa, Sambar) are typically found at lower elevations and are more prevalent on the North Island.
The bottom line is that if you want to do a tahr, chamois or free-range red deer hunt in New Zealand, you’ve got to go into it with your eyes wide open and be prepared...
If you are wondering how much a DIY hunt in New Zealand is going to cost, the answer might surprise you...
There are so many variables that go into estimating a hunt cost that it's hard to give you more than just a broad range for the total hunt cost.
For instance, I don’t know if you are thinking of staying in NZ for one week or for three weeks. Will you eat out every meal? Stay in hotels or camp on the roadside? Take a couple helicopter rides into hunting grounds or hike in from the road? Expedite your trophies through a taxidermist or boil them in the driveway of your Airbnb?
Obviously, you can take a minimalistic approach and spend as little as possible, or you can take advantage of your ‘holiday’, as they say in New Zealand, and treat yourself to some comforts.
The bottom line is, if you like adventure and you are on a budget, then you are going to love New Zealand.
New Zealand has so much opportunity for the DIY, public land hunter, its amazing that it doesn't get more attention from American hunters.
Consider this: travel to the country is relatively easy, NZ's hunting regulations are minimal and the number of game species and amount of game is high -- all of this in a beautiful country full of very friendly people and with an exchange rate that makes hunting out of country very economical for the adventurous US hunter.
Here are some of the important things to know about when getting started:
Tahr, chamois, red deer and fallow deer seem to be the most commonly hunted species by international hunters. There is good reason for this.
Tahr and chamois are the most common and accessible mountain game in New Zealand - and some of the finest mountain species in the world. Similarly, red deer and fallow deer are the most common and accessible deer species,...