Chamois
PHOTO: Gordon Roberts © 

Introduction

Find out about chamois, where to hunt, and get tips for hunting chamois.

Find out about chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra rupicapra).

Description

Size: Males are 650-900 mm (shoulder height) and weigh 25-45 kg. Females are smaller at 600-800 mm shoulder height and weighing 19-35 kg.

Colour: Their summer coat varies from grey-brown, tan to honey-gold tone. Their much darker winter coat is dark brown/almost black.

On their face they have a dark brown or black band that goes from the nose, around the eyes to base of horns. Their cheeks and throat are white or pale fawn.

Horns: Both male and females have horns which are black and slender. They arise straight up before curving backwards to form sharp hooks at the ends. Male horns are usually stouter and their hooks more strongly developed than females.

Social behaviour: Mostly feeding during the day, during summer time they feed for 3-4 hours from dawn and again for 3-4 hours before dusk. They rest during the middle of the day. During winter they feed less intensively, mostly at mid morning and mid afternoon.

Outside of mating season, male and female chamois are largely segregated. Females and young form loose, unstable groups, and males are mostly solitary.

Reproduction: Mating season begins in early-mid May, peaking in late May to early June. During this time dominant males will gather available females in a harem, defending them from other males often posturing with imposing displays but rarely resulting in frontal attacks.

Gestation period: Variable 5 1/2 to 6 months.

Birthing: Single young are born from November to February.

Nomenclature: Male chamois are called bucks, females called doe, and their young called kids.

Where to hunt chamois

Chamois are found throughout the high country of the South Island and in some lowland forests, from the Marlborough Sounds in the north to Fiordland in the south.

They are renowned for their ability to occupy a range of mountain habitats, and will spread into lower altitude forest areas especially on the West Coast.

For specific information on chamois presence or hunting blocks, contact:

Nelson/Marlborough

In the Nelson/Marlborough area moderate to light numbers of chamois can be found, mainly around Nelson Lakes National Park and South Marlborough. They are still colonising North West Nelson and sightings have been reported as far north as the head of the Cobb Valley. For further details, contact:

Whakatū / Nelson Office
Phone:   +64 3 546 9335
Email:   nelson@doc.govt.nz
Address:   Monro State Building
186 Bridge Street
Nelson 7010
Full office details
 

West Coast

Chamois are found in low numbers throughout most alpine areas of the northern west coast. For further details, contact:

Māwhera / Greymouth Office
Phone:   +64 3 768 0427
Email:   greymouth@doc.govt.nz
Address:   17 High Street
Greymouth 7805
Full office details
 

For Hokitika/Whitcombe, Kokatahi/Toaroha, Otira/Deception, Styx/Arahura, Taipo and Taramakau catchments contact:

Kawatiri / Westport Office
Phone:   +64 3 788 8008
Email:   paparoavc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   Russell Street
Westport 7825
Full office details
 

For the Wanganui, Whataroa, Waitangitoana to Franz Josef, Saltwater Forest, Omoeroa and Okarito areas contact:

Franz Josef Glacier Base
Phone:   +64 3 752 0796
Email:   westlandnpvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   13 State Highway 6
Franz Josef Glacier 7856
Full office details
 

For the Fox, Cook, Copland, Douglas, Mahitahi, Jacobs contact:

Franz Josef Glacier Base
Phone:   +64 3 752 0796
Email:   westlandnpvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   13 State Highway 6
Franz Josef Glacier 7856
Full office details
 

Chamois occur in moderate numbers in Haast Valley, Landsborough and Clarke with lower numbers in valleys south of Haast being, Okuru, Turnbull, Waiatoto, Arawhata and Cascade. For further details, contact:

Awarua / Haast Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 750 0809
Email:   haastvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   Haast Junction
Corner SH6 and Jackson Bay Road
Haast
South Westland
Full office details
 

Canterbury

There are good numbers of chamois in Mid and North Canterbury but low numbers in South Canterbury due to the expanding range of Tahr. For further details, contact:

Arthurs Pass National Park both east and west sides:

Arthur's Pass National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 318 9211
Email:   arthurspassvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   State Highway 73
Arthur's Pass
Full office details
 

For other areas, contact:

Te Manahuna / Twizel Office
Phone:   +64 3 435 0802
Email:   twizel@doc.govt.nz
Address:   15 Wairepo Road
Twizel 7901
Full office details

Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 435 1186
Email:   mtcookvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   1 Larch Grove
Aoraki/Mt Cook
Full office details
 

Raukapuka / Geraldine Office
Phone:   +64 3 693 1010
Email:   geraldine@doc.govt.nz
Address:   13 – 15 North Terrace
Geraldine 7930
Full office details
 

Whakatipu-wai-Māori / Queenstown Office
Phone:   +64 3 442 7933
Email:   queenstown@doc.govt.nz
Address:   Cavells Building
1 Arthurs Point Road
Queenstown
9371
Full office details
 

Tips for hunting chamois

Characteristics / behaviour

Hunting response

Chamois are small to medium sized animals, which due to terrain encountered in are often hard to get close to undetected.

Flat trajectory calibre .223 for ranges under 200m and .243 or .25 and above for longer ranges.

They have excellent sense of smell and eyesight.

Hunt in an upwind direction taking advantage of vegetation and rock cover.

During the rut (mating season), males join up with the groups of females and young.

 

The rut is a good time to hunt for bucks as they can be preoccupied with gathering and defending does from other bucks.

In summer they feed from dawn for three to four hours, then rest until three to four hours before dusk, when they feed again. In winter, feeding is confined to mid morning and mid afternoon.

Hunting chamois whilst occupied feeding can be easier to locate and stalk animals as opposed to when lying down resting.

Chamois like to sit on lookout points, spurs or in open headwaters on small outcrops or permanent snow, where they have expansive views to watch for danger.

Glass well ahead remembering that chamois are small when sitting down. Often a giveaway feature is the black stripe on the cream face of the chamois.

Chamois when looking for danger will often concentrate looking down and seldom above.

When hunting, where able approach from above as this often increases the chance of getting in close for a shot undetected.

Chamois will often avoid areas where tahr are feeding.

If hunting chamois specifically, look for feeding areas away from tahr.

Chamois, especially on the West Coast are not restricted to the high country and will occupy low altitude forests.

When travelling to more open country seeking chamois be alert for animals lower down especially on slips, creek beds, rocky outcrops etc.

Hunting seasons and ballots

In New Zealand, there is no seasonal restriction to hunting chamois meaning generally they can be hunted throughout the year. There are however, instances where restrictions apply for specific reasons and periods when hunting is favoured.

Specific restrictions

  • Some areas may be closed during periods of high fire danger.
  • Occasionally an area may be closed on a temporary basis to enable research or other management to be undertaken without being compromised by hunting.

It is important to check for these conditions with the DOC office nearest the hunting area.

Favoured hunting periods

  • The rut (May-June) is a good time to hunt for bucks as they can be preoccupied with gathering and defending does from other bucks.
  • Late summer: Can offer settled weather in beautiful alpine country when chamois have a lovely fawn summer coat following the spring moult and prior to commencing the winter coat growth. Bucks can be found tucked up by themselves high in the headwaters of alpine basins.
Back to top