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Join a club
Joining a hunting club is a great way to pick up tips and skills from experienced hunters. Hunting clubs often provide opportunities for learner hunters to join an organised hunt and see what it’s all about.
Find out about local hunting clubs through the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association.
Take a course
The Hunter National Training Scheme (HUNTS) provides new hunters with practical skills for safe, successful hunting.
Advice for beginners and families
Hunting can be a family affair. It is an excellent way to get into the outdoors with your family, and you can teach kids about how to be responsible in the outdoors and with firearms. Age or gender should not be a barrier. Go with people you trust and people who trust you.
- Go when fine weather is forecast - this is critical if the trip involves river crossings
- Start with a single night trip
- Consider flying in/out
- Educate on all aspects of hunting
- Make sure to involve all the kids in the group
- Keep them warm, and equip them adequately
- Make the trip duration age appropriate
- Don’t leave out the girls
- Stay somewhere comfortable such as a hut or tent
Check this gear list and make sure you're prepared before you head out into the bush.
You must follow the responsible hunting code.
When to hunt
While there are year round opportunities for hunting, certain times of the year may influence what and where you choose to hunt. Summer means warmer and more settled weather, but it also means more trampers and other recreational users are around. The "roar" is popular for hunting stags and more hunters venture out at this time.
See what to hunt for information, including the best times of the year for hunting specific species.
Walk in from road ends, or hire a helicopter to reach more isolated areas. Each region has rules about where helicopters can land, so make sure you approach the local visitor centre or area office and talk to staff about helicopter landing regulations.
Be aware that many areas are surrounded by private land, and access is only at the permission of those landowners. It is the hunter’s responsibility to arrange access with private landowners before setting out.
Backcountry huts and campsites
New Zealand has over 900 backcountry huts and more than 80 backcountry campsites offering a range of facilities.
Many hunters take advantage of basic huts or bivvies which are free to stay in, some of which may have a meat safe and/or dog kennels located away from the hut. Where rifle racks are installed, use them to secure your weapons.
Find out more about huts
Communications in the backcountry
Hire a mountain radio, as the Mountain Radio Service is more reliable than cellphone coverage in the backcountry. You can also use satellite phones and personal locator beacons.
Read more about communications.
Clean up animal waste
Rubbish must be removed, and offal and carcasses must not be left in or near visitor facilities (including tracks, campsites and huts) or waterways. Burying animal waste is the best method of disposal, so take a small shovel. Bury it well away from tracks, huts, campsites and waterways.
Keep your catch safe for eating
The Ministry for Primary Industries provides information about how to keep your catch safe for eating, and also the regulations on trading homekill and recreational catch. There are specialist game butchers in many parts of New Zealand who can turn your kill into steaks, sausages, burgers, etc.
Homekill, hunting, game and wild foods
The hunting in conservation areas brochure provides general information about recreational hunting in conservation areas, including the species you can hunt, what permits you need, and safety information when you’re out in the bush.
Hunting in conservation areas brochure (PDF, 2,220K)
New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association has values that are closely aligned with those of DOC. Their mission statement is: To retain, enhance and create opportunities for the enjoyment of legitimate recreational hunting and the sport of shooting for the members of the Association. View their mission statement and Code of Ethics.
The South Island Kōkako Charitable Trust is encouraging all outdoors enthusiasts to be on the lookout for the South Island kōkako when out in the native forests of South and Stewart Islands. The Trust has offered a reward for definitive evidence that this elusive bird still exists so that it can be conserved appropriately. Read more about the kōkako search.