Te Waihora is New Zealand's most popular recreational duck-shooting area. Note that it is mandatory to use steel shot in this area.

Algal blooms on the lake can be extremely toxic to dogs. Check the Environment Canterbury website for the latest information regarding the safety of dogs at the lake.

What you need to be able to hunt

To hunt gamebirds on Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere, you must register on the DOC Canterbury database.

To get registered contact the Ōtautahi / Christchurch Office.

You'll also need:

You must only use steel shot in this area. 

Identify your target

The lake supports up to 166 different species of bird, including a large population of the protected grey teal/tete. Make sure you identify your target, particularly when light levels are low.


Gamebird hunting access map (PDF, 758K)

Key access sites:

  • Johnstons Road, Lakeside Wildlife Management Reserve
  • Lake Road South and Dickies Road, ‘Williams’ Wildlife Management Reserve
  • Lakeland Road, ‘Wards’ Wildlife Management Reserve
  • Selwyn Lake Road, Selwyn Wildlife Management Reserve
  • Wolfes, Embankment, and Clarks Roads, Yarrs Flat Wildlife Management Reserve
  • Jarvis and Hudson Roads, Greenpark Sands
  • Seabridge Road, ‘Lakelands’ Conservation Area
  • Sunset Point (pedestrian access across rail trail – beware of rail trail users)
  • Kaituna Quarry (pedestrian access across rail trail – beware of rail trail users)
  • Bayleys Road, Timber landing area, Kaitorete Spit


Topo 50 maps BX23, BX 24, BY23, BY24


  • Dogs are allowed for bird retrieval but must be under effective control. 
  • Remove any faeces. 
  • At times there are toxic algal blooms which may be fatal to dogs. Check the Environment Canterbury website for the latest information before taking a dog into the area.

Rail trail

  • No gamebird hunting is permitted from the rail trail or within 50 metres of the rail trail.
  • While crossing the rail trail to access the lake, firearms must be made safe and dogs kept under effective control. 
  • On private land next to the rail trail, gamebird hunters are required to exercise responsibility as required under the Arms Act 1983 and as set out in the Arms Code, Firearms Safety Manual issued by New Zealand Police. 
  • Maimai cannot be erected within the rail trail corridor. 

Hunting Canada geese or feral geese

To hunt Canada geese or feral gese on Te Waihora, you will have to register on the DOC Canterbury database. The permits are identical to the standard gamebird permit, allowing only shotguns with steel shot to be used. You don't need a Fish & Game gamebird permit to hunt Canada geese or feral geese.

Additional information

Much of the lake and some land around it are subject to the statutory Te Waihora Joint Management Plan. Commercial hunters need to contact Ngāi Tahu for a permit.

Hunters are advised to check for current pesticide operations that may be in progress where they intend to hunt. Pesticide summaries are published every four months.


Ōtautahi / Christchurch Office
Phone:   0800 275 362
Address:   Level 3
Grand Central
161 Cashel Street
Christchurch 8011
Postal Address:   Private Bag 4715
Christchurch Mail Centre
Christchurch 8140
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