Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


DOC reminds hunters that hunting is not allowed during the hours of darkness.

Date:  06 September 2016

The Department of Conservation will be turning the spotlight onto anyone found hunting during the hours of darkness. 

Hunting on any land in New Zealand requires the permission of the landowner. On conservation land, this permission is gained by obtaining a hunting permit from the Department of Conservation, which must be carried while hunting and produced on demand. DOC will be checking for permits.

All hunting permits have a number of conditions which must be adhered to. 

Paul Thornton, Acting Manager Operations says that hunters must comply with two critical aspects. They must identify their target, and they must not hunt during the hours of darkness.

“Hunting is not allowed during the hours of darkness because the hunter cannot see what is beyond their target. 

“Hunting using spotlights or other artificial lights, such as vehicle headlights, is illegal and dangerous. Even if the animal can be clearly seen, the hunter will not be able to see clearly past the range of the light. This puts other users of the area at risk.”

The use of night vision equipment, infra-red and heat detecting devices are also prohibited on conservation land during the hours of darkness.

“Hunting permit conditions are there to ensure everyone is safe in the bush”, says Paul Thornton.

Hunting without a permit or lack of compliance with permit conditions is an offence under the Conservation Act, and the penalty for an individual is up to one-year imprisonment, a fine of up to $100,000, or both.

“Responsible hunters will always comply with the requirements of land managers and land owners” stated Bill O’Leary, National President of New Zealand Deerstalkers Association.

“Night hunting on conservation land would be a blatant breach of the conditions under which a permit to hunt is granted. Such activity constitutes an illegal act that should result in prosecution and probable loss of a firearms licence.” 

Background information

The hunting section of this website contains information on hunting permits, species to hunt, areas where hunting is permitted and the conditions in those areas, where pesticides have been laid, hunting safety, and good hunting practice.

Permits for open hunting areas can be applied for online, while other permits can be obtained from DOC offices.

Firearms Safety

All firearms users in New Zealand must be in possession of a valid firearms licence and comply with the New Zealand Police Arms Code at all times.

Firearms Safety Code

Hunters must follow every part of the Firearms Safety Arms Code, and should know and comply with its seven basic rules at all times:

  1. Treat every firearm as loaded.
  2. Always point firearms in a safe direction.
  3. Load a firearm only when ready to fire.
  4. Identify your target beyond all doubt.
  5. Check your firing zone.
  6. Store firearms and ammunition safely.
  7. Avoid alcohol or drugs when handling firearms.


Paul Thornton, Acting Manager Operations, Motueka
Phone: + 64 27 723 5097

Bill O’Leary, National President NZ Deerstalkers Association
Phone: +64 3 547 6202
Mobile: +64 27 430 5008

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