National | Hunting

Hunting allowed during Level 3 but with special restrictions

Hunters around the motu will be pleased to hear that from Tuesday next week, they'll be able to hit the bush again for their kai.

Hunting hasn’t 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.

Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson and Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage say hunters will be able to hunt on private land with special restrictions when New Zealand moves to Level 3, but not on public conservation land.

“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," Robertson says.

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.”

Hunting on public conservation land will not be allowed

Sage says hunting on public conservation land is not allowed until the time when there is a decision for New Zealand to return to 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, says Sage.

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

Duck hunting season

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

“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.”

She says the delay was determined in consultation with the New Zealand Fish and Game Council.

“All New Zealanders will still have an opportunity to hunt ducks, at the same time, once we return to Alert Level 2."

Overall New Zealanders are being encouraged to spend time in nature where possible if it’s local, but not to take up hunting as a new hobby.

Arrests made

Five men were arrested on Monday night, 20 April, after Police received a report of illegal hunting on in the Waitomo area.

Police were called to a rural property and found five men unlawfully hunting deer on private land.

Only one of the men was a firearms license holder.

They were arrested and have been summonsed to appear in court at a later date on unlawful hunting charges.

The men may also face additional charges in relation to breaching Level 4 restrictions.