The Jackson, Smoothwater and Stafford catchments are moderate sized rivers just south of the Arawhata River. This large area is easy to access and provides for good deer hunting.


  • Deer - Red

Permit requirements

A permit is required to hunt on public conservation land.

This hunting area is covered by an 'open area permit' – get it online or from a DOC office.

Dog access

Dogs with a DOC permit only. More information below or contact the relevant DOC office.

About this hunting block

Hunting ballot

The Stafford River – Block 20 is balloted during the roar but all other areas with easy access are open blocks. The roar is from March to April

More information and how to apply for the roar ballot.


Access to the area is either:

  • from the Jackson Bay to Cascade River Road, or
  • by the Smoothwater Track from Jackson Bay Road.

Cascade River Road route

The Jackson River Road from Arawhata bridge to the Cascade River is gravel but is well maintained to 2WD standard. Access to side streams and forests is directly off this road. The grassed areas in the valley are not fenced but are grazed by cattle. 

Smoothwater Track route

The main walking access is the Smoothwater Track. This starts from the Jackson Bay Road about 1 km before the settlement is reached. It is a 40 minute walk to the Smoothwater River then a further 2 hour walk across the Stafford Saddle (243 m) and into the Stafford River. The Stafford Hut is 30 minutes downstream once the main river is reached.

You can also walk the coastline at low tide between the Smoothwater and Stafford rivers.

The Smoothwater River is easy to travel with many small open areas. There is a low saddle with Ellery Creek that flows into Lake Ellery. The Stafford River has open flats lower down but narrows up about 4 km from the coast.


The Jackson Valley river flats are currently used for grazing. You need to contact the landholders for permission to cross this land. Contact Haast Visitor Centre for contact details.


NZTopo50 BZ10, BZ11.


Stafford Hut


Moderate numbers of red deer can be found throughout the area at any time of the year however spring hunting on the river flats and the roar is most popular.

The Jackson Valley receives a lot of hunting pressure. Bush hunting of terraces and ridges is easy.  

Chamois are uncommon.

Know before you go

Check for current pesticide operations that may be in progress where you intend to hunt. Use the West Coast pesticide summary map.

The use of shotguns, shotgun-rifle combos, .22 calibre and rim-fire firearms is prohibited on public conservation land unless stated otherwise.


Awarua/Haast Visitor Centre
Phone +64 3 750 0809
Email haastvc@doc.govt.nz
Address Haast Junction
Corner SH6 and Jackson Bay Road
Haast 7886
Hours See visitor centre hours
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