(Meleagris gallopavo Linnaeus)
Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo Linnaeus) were initially released or escaped from breeding stock in the mid 1860’s on the east coast of the North Island. Their feral range is now well-established throughout both the North and South Island. The most common subspecies of turkey found in New Zealand is the Merriam. Turkeys have limited predators and very little hunting pressure, resulting in high populations and males or toms reaching maturity. The preferred hunting method is spot and stalk with a high success rate. Unlike North America, New Zealand does not have a hunting season for wild turkeys or require a game bird license. Turkeys are available to hunt year-round and make a great add on to any hunt.
(Phasianus colchicus Linnaeus)
Pheasants (Phasianus colchicus Linnaeus) were introduced to New Zealand for sporting purposes in 1842 and are now one of New Zealand’s most sought after game birds. Their striking colours and excellent eating qualities make them popular among all game bird hunters. Pheasants are located in both the North and South Island. They preferer the warmer climate in the North Island, as they do not have down to protect them from colder climates. However, you will find them in abundance in the drier areas of the South Island. The preferred method of hunting free-range pheasant is spot and stalk with a shotgun and bird dog for flushing and retrieval. Alternatively, hand reared cock birds are planted and used for driven hunts. A good gun dog is almost essential for all forms of pheasant hunting. The hunting season for pheasant runs from May through to August and a game bird license is required to hunt them during open season.
Chukar were first introduced to New Zealand from India in 1962 for sporting purposes. Chukar inhabit diverse landscapes – from low lying pastural land to subalpine regions with altitudes of up to 2,000 metres in elevation. Chukar are small and fly fast. They are arguably one of the most challenging game birds to hunt in New Zealand. The preferred hunting method for chukar is with a shot gun and bird dogs for flushing and retrieval. The hunting season for chukar runs from May through to August and a game bird license is required to hunt them during open season.
New Zealand is home to three species of quail; california, brown and bobwhite. The californian quail was the first species introduced to New Zealand in 1865. Quail are now the most common upland game bird in both the North and South Island. Quail inhabit diverse terrain – from coastal areas to shingle river beds, native forests and scrubby hill country. The preferred hunting method for quail is with a shot gun and bird dogs for flushing and retrieval. All species of quail can be hunted during the annual game bird season from May through to August with a valid game bird hunting licence.
New Zealand is home to a variety of duck species – the mallard duck, grey duck, Australasian shoveler duck and paradise shelduck. Duck shooting from a maimai (hunting blind) is a New Zealand tradition. Waterfowl hunters build a temporary or permanent hunting blind and pre-feed their pond in eager preparation for opening day. The mallard, grey and Australasian shoveler duck are commonly hunted from a hunting blind with high success. They’re found on most shallow bodies of fresh water such as wetlands, ponds, lakes and even flooded fields.
Paradise shelducks or more commonly referred to as “parries” are beautiful birds with unique colours. Unusual for ducks, the female is more striking than the male. Females have a pure white head and chestnut coloured body, while males have a dark grey body and black head. Paradise shelducks pair for life and are the only shelduck in New Zealand, which means it is a rather gooselike duck. They mainly feed on pasture grass, so they’re predominately shot on land in pasture fringe country. New Zealand has generous waterfowl bag limits. All species of duck can be hunted during the annual game bird season from May through to August with a valid game bird hunting licence.
Native to North America, Canadian geese were initially introduced to New Zealand in 1876 and later in 1905. They are now widely distributed throughout the North and South Island. Canadian geese cause a substantial amount of damage to agricultural pastures and crops, as well as native flora and fauna. They’re typically found in large flocks grazing on grass or feeding in shallow water. The preferred method of hunting Canadian geese in New Zealand is stalking sheltered bodies of shallow water with a shotgun or in open fields with the use of decoys and hunting blinds. Canadian geese are available to hunt year-round and make a great add on to any hunt.