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


Hunters will be able to hunt on private land with special restrictions when New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, but not on public conservation land.

Date:  23 April 2020 Source:  Office of the Minister of Conservation and Office of the Minister for Sports and Recreation

Hunters will be able to hunt on private land with special restrictions when New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, but not on public conservation land, Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson and Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage announced today.

Hunting has not been allowed since New Zealand moved to Alert Level 4, but a shift to Level 3 next Tuesday morning will mean hunters can once again hunt locally - as long as they have the landholder’s permission and stick to the rules.

“We know that hunting is an important part of life for many New Zealanders, and in some cases a critical source of food. At Level 3 we also need to minimise the risk of losing the great progress we’ve made together in Alert Level 4 in stamping out the virus. We have to strike a balance, and that’s why these rules are designed to allow hunting in a limited way,” Grant Robertson said.

“Cabinet has agreed hunting on private land will be allowed under Alert Level 3, so long as hunters stay within their region and stick to their bubble. Hunting is only permitted on foot and overnight trips are not allowed. The use of quad bikes, off-road bikes, helicopters and other motorised vehicles is prohibited.”

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said hunting on public conservation land is not allowed until the time when there is a decision for New Zealand return to Alert Level 2.

“While many hunters may want to head to popular spots on public land to target the last stag of the roar, under Alert Level 3 hunting on public conservation land will remain off-limits,” Eugenie Sage said.

“This helps with consistency across walking and mountain biking where people must stay local, rather than travelling to backcountry conservation land.

“The start of the duck hunting season is being postponed from Saturday 2 May to start on the second weekend after that date that is decided for when New Zealand moves to Alert Level 2.  The season will also end later,” Eugenie Sage said.

“I know this is disappointing but for many duck hunters the social interaction around hunting is an important part of the activity, especially at opening weekend. The risks associated with groups of people coming together is too high.

“The two-week delay to the start of the season after a decision is made to move into Level 2 was determined in consultation with the New Zealand Fish and Game Council and I want to thank them for their constructive engagement with these decisions.“All New Zealanders will still have an opportunity to hunt ducks, at the same time, once we return to Alert Level 2.

“We’re still encouraging New Zealanders to spend time in nature where possible if it’s local, but this is not the time to take up hunting as a new hobby or explore the backcountry and go on an overnight tramp. Use your common sense – stay local, stay safe,” Eugenie Sage said.

Frequently asked questions

How far can I travel to go hunting on private land?

You should drive as short a distance as you can. You must stay within your region.

Does private land include Māori land?

Yes – the same rules apply.

Have the deer roar and tahr rut ballots/hunting blocks been affected by COVID-19?

DOC runs an annual ballot system for hunters wishing to hunt during the deer roar and tahr rut period. The ballot ensures hunters have access to an assigned hunting block.

Hunting blocks assigned to hunters as part of the 2020 deer roar are cancelled.

The tahr rut begins in late April and is a popular time for hunting in the South Island. Tahr ballots allow a select number of hunters authorised aircraft landings in the Hooker-Landsborough and Adams Wilderness areas. As the tahr rut takes place over winter, the 2020 tahr ballots are currently under review.  We will contact ballot holders with more information in due course.

At Alert Level 3, people must not head into the backcountry/remote areas, for their safety and the safety of others. DOC huts are also not available for use.

Can I still get a hunting permit?

In order to hunt animals on public conservation land, hunters need a DOC hunting permit. DOC has temporarily disabled the function on its website which allows hunters to apply for permits. This will be reassessed at Alert Level 2.


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