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  New Zealand Big Game Hunting outfitters and professional hunters.  Download our current brochure of New Zealand hunting trips in the South Islands Southern Alps with Backcountry New Zealand's hunting guides and outfitting service.  We are members of the New Zealand Professional Hunting Guides association and make it our promise to you to deliver an exclusive and authentic hunting experience in New Zealand.  We offer one hunt at a time to ensure you are the sole focus of our company while you hunt with us.

  Download our current brochure on guided fly fishing trips in New Zealand's South Island with Backcountry New Zealand Fly-fishing professional guides and outfitting service.  We offer you a service that designs a tour to suit your personal requirements. We are members of the New Zealand Professional Fishing Guides association.

 Hunting in New Zealand, New Zealand hunting gun laws, New Zealand hunting permits, New Zealand hunting books, New Zealand hunting magazines, New Zealand hunting guides, New Zealand guided hunting, New Zealand hunting outfitters, New Zealand hunting articles, New Zealand helicopters, New Zealand helicopter hunting, New Zealand trophy red deer hunting, chamois, Himalayan thar, fallow deer, whitetail deer, sika deer, elk, wapiti, sambar deer, rusa, wild goats and wild pigs and boar in New Zealand. New Zealand hunting clothing, New Zealand woolen hunting clothing,Hunting is a recreational pursuit and a tourist activity in New Zealand with numerous books and magazines published on the topic.Introduced species Prior to human settlement New Zealand had no land based mammals other than bat species. European settlers introduced a wide range of animals including some specifically for game hunting. Acclimatisation societies Acclimatisation societies were active for a period of 60 years from the 1860s in having introduced animals established in New Zealand. The majority were introduced for food or sport. Government sanctioned deer culling By the 1950s red deer were recognised as an animal pest which damaged the natural environment and the government began employing hunters to cull the deer population to prevent this damage. Networks of tracks with bridges and huts were set up to gain easy access into the backcountry. These tracks and huts, now maintained by the Department of Conservation, are popular for tramping. Commercial hunting operations Foreign tourists come to New Zealand for hunting as part of guided tours or as independent hunters. Types of hunting    
Chamois is a goat-antelope native to Europe. Alpine chamois arrived in New Zealand in 1907 as a gift from the Austrian Emperor, Franz Joseph I. The first surviving releases were made in the Aoraki/Mount Cook region and these animals gradually spread over much of the South Island. They are often referred to colloquially as "chamy" (pronounced "shamy").   
In New Zealand, hunting of chamois is unrestricted and even encouraged by the Department of Conservation to limit the animal's impact on New Zealand's native alpine flora.    
Fallow Deer (Dama dama)    
A smaller species of deer in New Zealand. Various genotypes exist with differing colour phases: (i) Common, (ii) Melanistic, (iii) Menil and (iv) White. They are often found in bush closer to pasture/farmland, as prefer grazing on grasses. Major herds are found in the North and South Islands of New Zealand.   
Red deer (Cervus elaphus scoticus)    
The red deer in New Zealand produce very large antlers and are regarded as amongst the best in the world by hunters. Along with the other introduced deer species they are however regarded as a pest by the department of conservation and have at times been heavily culled using professional hunters. Additionally many hunters and outdoors enthusiasts class deer in NZ as a resource, for both food, hobbies, and an economic (tourist attraction). Ongoing issues over their pest status continue to be debated between parties.   

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 In fly fishing, fish are caught by using artificial flies that are cast with a fly rod and a fly line. The fly line (today, almost always coated with plastic) is heavy enough to send the fly to the target. This is one of the main differences between fly fishing and spin or bait fishing; in fly fishing it is the weight of the line that carries the hook through the air, whereas in spin and bait fishing it is the weight of the lure or sinker that gives you casting distance. Artificial flies are of several types, some imitating an insect (either flying or swimming), others a bait fish or crustacean, others attractors are known to attract fish although they look like nothing in nature. Flies can be made either to float or sink, and range in size from a few millimeters to 30�cm long; most are between 1 and 5�cm. 
Artificial flies are made by fastening hair, fur, feathers, or other materials, both natural and synthetic, onto a hook. The first flies were tied with natural materials, but synthetic materials are now very popular and prevalent. The flies are tied in sizes, colors and patterns to match local terrestrial and aquatic insects, baitfish, or other prey attractive to the target fish species. 
Dry fly fishing is done with line and flies that float, joined by a leader, usually made of fine polyamide monofilament line. The tapered leader is 3 to 5 meters long, thus nearly invisible where the fly is knotted, and the angler can replace the last meter of nylon as required. Unlike sinking fly (nymph) fishing, the "take" on dry flies is visible, explosive and exciting. While trout typically consume about 90% of their diet from below-water sources, the 10% of surface-level consumption by trout is more than enough to keep most anglers busy. Additionally, beginning fly anglers generally prefer dry fly fishing because of the relative ease of detecting a strike and the instant gratification of seeing a trout strike their fly. Nymph fishing may be more productive, but dry fly anglers soon become addicted to the surface strike. 
Dry fly fishing on small, clear-water streams can be especially productive if the angler stays as low to the ground and as far from the bank as possible, moving upstream with stealth. Trout tend to face upstream and most of their food is carried to them on the current. For this reason, the fish's attention is normally focused into the current; most anglers move and fish "into the current", fishing from a position downstream of the fish's suspected lie. Trout tend to strike their food at current "edges", where faster- and slower-moving waters mix. Obstructions to the stream flow, such as large rocks or nearby pools, provide a "low energy" environment where fish sit and wait for food without expending much energy. Casting upstream to the "edge" of the slower water, the angler can see the fly land and drift slowly back downstream. The challenge in stream fishing is placing the fly with deadly accuracy, within inches of a protective rock for instance, not long range casting. Done properly, the fly seems to be just floating along in the current with a "perfect drift" as if not connected to the fly line. The angler must remain vigilant for the "take" in order to be ready to raise the rod tip and set the hook.

 New Zealand hunts and trout fishing are one of the most memorable travel experiences for the hunter or angler.  Now you can be rest assured that while traveling to New Zealand, your next hunting trip or fly fishing experience will be Carbon Neutral or better!  © Backcountry New Zealand Fishing and hunting guides








NZ Game Species

Red Deer — (Cervus elaphus)

  The   Red Deer   is the fourth largest deer species behind moose, elk (wapiti) and sambar deer. West European Red Deer historically, grew to large size given ample food supply (including peoples' crops), and descendants of introduced populations living in  New Zealand  and   Argentina   have grown quite large in size and antlers. Generally, the male (stag or hart)   Red Deer   is typically 175 to 230 cm (69 to 91 in) long and weighs 160 to 240 kg (350 to 530 lb); the female is 160 to 210 cm (63 to 83 in) long and weighs 120 to 170 kg (260 to 370 lb). The tail adds another 12 to 19 cm (4.7 to 7.5 in) and shoulder height is about 105 to 120 cm (41 to 47 in). European Red Deer tend to be reddish-brown in their summer coats. The males of many subspecies also grow a short neck mane ("mane" of hair around their necks) during the autumn.   Red Deer   hinds (females) do not have neck manes. The European Red Deer is adapted to a woodland environment. Only the stags have antlers which start growing in the spring and are shed each year, usually at the end of winter. Antlers are made of bone which can grow at a rate of 2.5 cm (1.0 in) a day. A soft covering known as velvet helps to protect newly forming antlers in the spring. European   red deer   antlers are distinctive in being rather straight and rugose, with the fourth and fifth tines forming a "crown" or "cup" in larger males. Any tines in excess of the fourth and fifth tine will grow radially from the "cup". "Cups" are generally absent in the antlers of smaller   red deer   such as Corsican Red Deer. West European Red Deer antlers feature bez (second) tines that are either absent or smaller than the brow tine. However, bez tines occur frequently in Norwegian Red Deer. Antlers of Caspian Red Deer carry large bez (second) tines and form less-developed "cups" than West European red deer, their antlers are thus more like the "throw back" top tines of the wapiti (Cervus canadensis sp.)and these are known as maraloid characteristics. A stag can (exceptionally) have antlers with no tines, and is then known as a switch. Similarly, a stag that doesn't grow antlers is a hummel. The antlers are testosterone-driven and as the stag's testosterone levels drop in the autumn, the velvet is shed and the antlers stop growing.  Red Deer produce no testosterone in their bodies while they are growing antler.  With the approach of autumn, the antler begin to calcify and the stags testosterone production builds for the approaching rut (mating season). During the autumn, all   Red Deer   subspecies grow a thicker coat of hair which helps to insulate them during the winter. Autumn is also when some of the stags grow their neck manes. It is in the autumn/winter coat that most subspecies are most distinct. Red Deer have different colouration based on the seasons and types of habitats, with grey or lighter colouration prevalent in the winter and a more reddish and darker coat in the summer.

Red deer were introduced into New Zealand in 1850 from Europe. They have established themselves so well that New Zealand red stags are renowned for being the largest in the world! Mature male Red Deer are known as stags and are renowned for their wariness and instinctual ability to disappear into cover at the slightest detection of a danger. It is a large antlered species similar to the elk. Standing 1.5m (5 ft) tall at the shoulders and a body weight of around 181kg (400 lb). The South Island has continued for some time to provide world records in red stag trophy sizes.


Himalayan Tahr — (Hemitragus jemlahicus)

   The Himalayan Tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus) (or Himalayan Thar) is a large ungulate related to the wild goat. Its native habitat is in the rugged wooded hills and mountain slopes of the Himalaya from Central Asia in northern Kashmir to   China  . They spend the summers grazing in high pastures, then come down the mountains and form mixed-sex herds in the winter. It was first identified by Charles Hamilton Smith and included in Cuvier's Animal Kingdom, 1827, etc.   
Traditionally, all three species of tahrs were placed in the genus Hemitragus. However, recent genetic studies have shown that the three species are not as closely related as had previously been thought. Consequently, it has been recommended moving the Nilgiri Tahr to the genus Nilgiritragus and the Arabian Tahr to Arabitragus, thereby leaving Hemitragus for the Himalayan Tahr.   
They have small heads with large eyes and small pointed ears. Their hooves have a flexible, rubbery core that allows them to grip smooth rocks, while a hard, sharp rim can lodge into small footholds. Males are larger and have different coloration and horn structure than the females. Adult Himalayan Tahr range from 135 to 180 kg (300 to 400 lb) in weight, 120 to 170 cm in length, and 60 to 90 cm in height. They are herbivores, subsisting on grass, shrubs, and trees. The gestation period is seven months, and usually only one kid is born at a time. The young tahr nurses for about six months, and may follow its mother for up to two years. In the wild, tahr can live up to 15 years, though ten years is more typical.   
Feral Himalayan Tahr are an introduced species in the South Island of New Zealand, with herds forming in the  Southern Alps . In large numbers tahr are regarded as a pest because their browsing has an impact on native vegetation. Tahr hunting is a recreational sport and commercial activity. Tahr have also been introduced to  New Mexico ,  California ,  South Africa , and   Ontario   for hunting in safari parks.

The Himalayan Tahr is considered a premier trophy. A Bull Tahr in full winter coat standing proudly upon a rocky spur is probably the most magnificent sight a hunter in New Zealand is ever likely to see. Originally from the Himalayas, New Zealand is now the only place in the world where a hunter can obtain a Thar trophy in the wild. Hunting Tahr is physically the most difficult; the hunter is often required to ascend up to 3000 feet each day, with the alpine areas being steep and craggy. The Tahr rest in the highest crags during the day and venturing down in the morning and evening to feed. The best time of the year is May through July (during the rut).

Fallow Deer - (Dama dama)

  Trophy   New Zealand   Fallow Buck.     
The Fallow Deer (Dama dama) is a ruminant mammal belonging to the family Cervidae.    
The male is known as a buck, the female is a doe, and the young a fawn. Adult bucks are 140–160 cm long and 90–100 cm shoulder height, and 60–85 kg in weight; does are 130–150 cm long and 75–85 cm shoulder height, and 30–50 kg in weight. Fawns are born in spring at about 30 cm and weigh around 4.5 kg. The life span is around 12–16 years. All of the Fallow deer have white spots on their backs, and black tips at the ends of their tails.    
The species has great variations in the colour of their coats, with four main variants, "common", "menil", "melanistic" and "white" - a genuine colour variety, not albinistic. The common coat variation has a brown coat with white mottles that are most pronounced in summer with a much darker coat in the winter. The white is the lightest colored, almost white; common and menil are darker, and melanistic is very dark, sometimes even black (easily confused with the Sika Deer). Most herds consist of the common coat variation, yet it is not rare to see animals of the menil, melanistic and white coat variations as well.    
Only bucks have antlers, which are broad and shovel-shaped. They are grazing animals; their preferred habitat is mixed woodland and open grassland. During the rut bucks will spread out and females move between them, at this time of year fallow deer are relatively ungrouped compared to the rest of the year when they try to stay together in groups of up to 150.

Described as a graceful and dainty slender deer, the adult fallow buck is easily distinguished by his palmated antlers. Limited numbers of Fallow are found in the wild in New Zealand, while higher numbers exist on the Game Estates. Fallow deer have a range of hide colours, from black, pure white, menil or spotted. With their antler formations and the differing colour skins they make a wonderful trophy for the wall. The 'Rut" for fallow deer begins in April and extends to the end of May.

Chamois - (Rupicapra rupicapra)

  The chamois, Rupicapra rupicapra, is a goat-antelope species native to mountains in Europe, including the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, the European Alps, the Tatra Mountains, the Balkans, parts of  Turkey , and the  Caucasus . The chamois has also been introduced to the South Island of New Zealand. Some subspecies of chamois are strictly protected in the EU under the European Habitats Directive.     
Chamois live at moderately high altitudes and are adapted to living in steep, rugged, rocky terrain. A fully grown chamois reaches a height of about 75 centimetres (30 in) and weighs between 20 kilograms (44 lb) and 30 kilograms (66 lb). Both males and females have short, straightish horns which are hooked backwards near the tip. In summer, the fur has a rich brown colour which turns to a light grey in winter. Distinct characteristics are a white face with pronounced black stripes below the eyes, a white rump and a black stripe along the back. Chamois can reach an age of 20 years.    
Female chamois and their young live in herds; adult males tend to live solitarily for most of the year. During the rut (late November/early December in Europe, May in   New Zealand  ), males engage in fierce battles for the attention of unmated females. An impregnated female undergoes a gestation period of 20 weeks, after which a single kid is born. The kid is fully grown by 1 year of age.     
Alpine chamois arrived in     New Zealand   in 1907 as a gift from the Austrian Emperor, Franz Joseph I. The first surviving releases were made in the Aoraki/Mount Cook region and these animals gradually spread over much of the  South Island .      
In  New Zealand , hunting of chamois is unrestricted and even encouraged by the Department of Conservation to limit the animal's impact on   New Zealand  's native alpine flora.    
New Zealand       chamois tend to weigh about 20% less than European individuals of the same age, suggesting that food supplies may be limited    
Hunting and wildlife management    
As their meat is considered tasty, chamois are popular game animals. Chamois have two traits that are exploited by hunters. The first is that they are most active in the morning and evening when they feed. The second trait is that chamois tend to look for danger from below. This means that a hunter stalking chamois from above is less likely to be observed and more likely to be successful.[8]    
The tuft of hair from the back of the neck, the gamsbart (chamois "beard"), is traditionally worn as a decoration on hats throughout the alpine countries.

Chamois are agile, alert mountain antelope, originally introduced to New Zealand from the Swiss / Austrian Alps 90 years ago. They inhabit similar terrain to that of the Tahr, however they choose to live at lower elevations and in more hospitable terrain. They are often found in sub alpine scrub just above tree line. The Chamois has exceptional eyesight (believed to be equivalent to six power binoculars) and are very alert, requiring good stalking skills in order to get close to them.

Elk or Wapiti - (Cervus canadenis)

  New Zealand Big Game hunting safaris. Backcountry   New Zealand   hunting guides and outfitters.    The elk is a large animal of the artiodactyle ungulate order, possessing an even number of toes on each foot.  During the summer, elk eat almost constantly, consuming between 4 and 7 kg (10 to 15 lb) daily. In  North America , males are called  bulls , and females are called  cows .   Elk are more than twice as heavy as mule deer and have a more reddish hue to their hair coloring, as well as large, buff colored rump patches and smaller tails. Moose are larger and darker than elk, bulls have distinctively different antlers and moose do not herd. Elk cows average 225 kg (500 lb), stand 1.3 m (4½ ft) at the shoulder, and are 2 m (6½ ft) from nose to tail. Bulls are some 40% larger than cows at maturity, weighing an average of 320 kg (700 lb), standing 1.5 m (5 ft) at the shoulder and averaging 2.5 m (8 ft) in length.   Only the males have antlers, which start growing in the spring and are shed each winter. The largest antlers may be 1.2 m (4 ft) long and weigh 18 kg (40 lb). Antlers are made of bone which can grow at a rate of 2.5 cm (1 inch) per day. While actively growing, the antlers are covered with and protected by a soft layer of highly vascularised skin known as velvet. The velvet is shed in the summer when the antlers have fully developed. Bull elk may have eight or more tines on each antler; however, the number of tines has little to do with the age or maturity of a particular animal. The Siberian and North American elk carry the largest antlers while the Altai wapiti have the smallest. The formation and retention of antlers is testosterone-driven.   After the breeding season in late fall, the level of pheromones released during estrus declines in the environment and the testosterone levels of males drop as a consequence. This drop in testosterone leads to the shedding of antlers, usually in the early winter.   During the fall, elk grow a thicker coat of hair, which helps to insulate them during the winter. Males, females and calves of Siberian and North American elk all grow thin neck manes; female and young Manchurian and Alashan wapitis do not. By early summer, the heavy winter coat has been shed, and elk are known to rub against trees and other objects to help remove hair from their bodies. All elk have small and clearly defined rump patches with short tails. They have different coloration based on the seasons and types of habitats, with gray or lighter coloration prevalent in the winter and a more reddish, darker coat in the summer. Subspecies living in arid climates tend to have lighter colored coats than do those living in forests. Most have lighter yellow-brown to orange-brown coats in contrast to dark brown hair on the head, neck, and legs during the summer. Forest-adapted Manchurian and Alashan wapitis have darker reddish-brown coats with less contrast between the body coat and the rest of the body during the summer months. Calves are born spotted, as is common with many deer species, and they lose their spots by the end of summer. Adult Manchurian wapiti may retain a few orange spots on the back of their summer coats until they are older. This characteristic has also been observed in the forest-adapted European   red deer  .

It was in 1905 that the only liberation of North American Elk took place, in the inhospitable Fiordland National Park, in the south-western corner of the South Island. Unfortunately, the herd expansion was halted by the topography and the fast encroaching Red deer herds with which they interbred. Because there are so few pure Elk left in the wilds of Fiordland, the only hunt we offer is a ‘game estate’ hunt in the South Island. The Elk bugle starts in March and continues through April.

Wild Boar - (Sus scrofa)

 Hunting trips in New Zealand for wild boar

Captain James Cook introduced European wild boar into New Zealand in 1773. These pigs adapted very readily to the mild climate and quickly spread throughout the country dwelling in many of the native forests. Wild boars come in a variety of colours and are hardy and strong animals weighing up to 136kg (300 lb). Their ivory tusks can be up to 75mm (3 inches) long. With their keen eyesight and sense of smell, the wild pig provides a real challenge to hunters.

Arapawa Ram - (Ovis aries)

 Big Game hunting safaris in New Zealand for Arapawa Rams. 
Arapawa Island is a breed of feral sheep found primarily on Arapawa Island in the Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand. They have been found on the island for at least 140 years. Although there are many theories of how the sheep arrived, it is generally accepted that they are descendents of Merino strains from Australia. The New Zealand Rare Breeds Conservation Society classifies this breed as "rare". This breed is raised primarily for wool. 
Characteristics:Ewes have no horns, but rams have long spiral horns that often measure over 1 metre (3 ft). The fiber is of Merino-like fineness. 
Due to living in a rather hostile and very steep terrain, this breed often looks hunched over as they carry their head and tail down most often. They have a light build and long legs making them a rather active breed. The head and face are narrow and clear while the ears are slender. They are naturally resistant to fly strike—a characteristic that would be beneficial in commercial flocks. 
Most often, the Arapawa Island displays all black. However, quite often, white points are displayed. On rare occasions, an all white sheep can be observed. "Cocktail" Arapawas are those that are white spotted.

The Arapawa was introduced by explorer, Captain Cook. They make an unusual and attractive trophy, with many rams being taken by overseas hunters each year. Arapawa rams are one of the only black-faced sheep, and are unique to New Zealand. A mature ram will have a full curl, and makes a handsome trophy. They vary in colour from white, black, to a combination of white and black. The hunting season for this trophy is year-round.

Feral Goat - (Capra hircus)

 Big game hunting safaris in New Zealand for wild goat with backcountry NZ hunting guides and outfitters

Feral goats are widespread throughout New Zealand, and come in every conceivable size, shape and colour. Trophy billies can be hard to find and a hunt can be an exciting addition to a safari. We have areas with large numbers, making them ideal for bow hunters.

Ducks & Geese - (Anas platyrhynchos & Branta canadensis)

New Zealand has a number of bird shooting options ranging from Ducks, Canadian Goose, and Pheasent. © Backcountry New Zealand

Duck shooting season is between May to July. Canada goose, mallard and paradise ducks are the most common. Paradise shelducks are popular among hunters. Shooting can be any time between February and September, with a limit of 15 per day. The Canterbury region provides the best Canadian geese shooting in New Zealand. Canada geese are to be found in great numbers around the high county of this region. Shooting is available between February to November.