Both Barrels April 2023

  • Central South Island
  • 19/04/2023

Both Barrels April 2023

Above Right: It's game on for the 2023 hunting season - credit Richie Cosgrove

Welcome to the 2023 Game Bird Season

Opening Day is Saturday the 6th of May.

At 6:45 am it’s game on.

No matter the weather, the Opening Weekend of the duck season never fails to be NZ’s most cherished hunting occasion for reconnecting with mates and family in those wet and wild habitats we love.

Of course, coming home with a free-range bird or three for the dinner table, all harvested by smart hunting and retrieved by a well-trained gun dog, is the icing on the cake.

If you haven’t yet purchased your licence, then grab your credit card and click here or head down to your local licence agent and grab one with your supplies.

Regulation changes for 2023


The are no new regulation changes for waterfowl hunting in the CSI Region this season.

Be sure to re-familiarise yourself with the regulations guide – click here for the online copy of the 2023 game bird regulations.

Upland game

CSI Region chukar hunters are now required to provide particulars of their chukar hunting activities to CSI Fish & Game within a month of the end of the season.

To help with this requirement we recommend you contact our office to register your intent to hunt chukar – that way, we can send you a hunting diary, remind you to provide your hunting info by the required date and send you a summary report of the chukar hunting season. 

Contact us at: phone - 03 615 8400, email -

Many birds about?

Overall, 2023 game bird numbers appear to be up on last year and, in general, at “typical” levels hunters have come to expect in the CSI region.

Chances are that you will encounter moderate numbers of mallards and paradise shelduck and high numbers of swans.

That, of course, depends on the weather on the day and water levels.

Here are some of the results from our annual game bird population surveys.

Wainono pre-season game survey – March 2023

Fish & Game Office undertaking the annual pre-season game survey at Wainono Lagoon-photo by Rhys Adams

South Canterbury’s Wainono Lagoon wetland complex, including the adjoining Fish & Game-owned Wetlands Reserve, is CSI’s game bird stronghold.

We undertake annual pre-season game bird population surveys of this significant hunting ground prior to tagging day.

Mallard numbers were moderate, with 1,853 counted on the day, while Paradise shelduck numbers were low on the day, with just 78 counted; we surmise that many parries and mallards were out feeding on surrounding farmland during the survey as it was a particularly wet week leading into the survey and abundant surface water provided plenty of feeding opportunities. 

Black swan (2,878) and shoveler (864) were in high numbers, and we expect there will be plenty of opportunity to target these species at Wainono during the season.

Canterbury Plains/North Otago dabbling duck and paradise shelduck survey – March 2023

Dabbling ducks, being the combined count of mallard, grey duck, grey teal, and shoveler, were at moderate to high numbers across the Mid and South Canterbury Plains and North Otago low country. Dabbling duck numbers increased notably from 2022 counts.

Paradise shelduck numbers were relatively high in the North Otago to Rangitata section of the Plains.

Paradise shelduck moult survey – January 2023

Approximately 16,009 paradise shelduck were counted in our late January moult count at 67 sites throughout the Waimate, Timaru, Mackenzie and Ashburton districts.   

This number is higher than in 2022 and represents a moderate population level in a historical context.

Black swan summer survey – January 2023

In total, 3,110 swans were counted across 67 sites throughout the Waimate, Timaru, Mackenzie and Ashburton districts.

This number is higher than in 2022 and represents a moderate population level in a historical context. 

Looking for a place to hunt after Opening Weekend?

CSI Fish & Game administer hunting at four wetlands.

In just a few easy steps, you can hunt these wetlands.

A mid-season hunt at Wainono Wetland Reserve-Credit Richie Cosgrove

These wetlands are balloted for Opening Weekend, but after Opening Weekend, these wetlands can be hunted by all licence holders, provided you obtain a permit first and, if required, contact the landowner prior to hunting.

Click here to Jump on our website to check out the wetland maps and info.

While there, save a permit application form, fill it in and email it to us, or alternatively, get in direct contact with the office.

CSI Fish & Game contacts: email or phone 03 6158400.

Check out this YouTube video of what is on offer at our Fish & Game Wainono Wetland Reserve.

Ducks are yum

Ducks are yum, and you can prepare and cook them in so many delicious ways.

The proof is in the pudding - the high and fast roast duck method produced an amazing meal-Credit Rhys Adams

Our YouTube channel has some great info to help you get the basics right and then try out some exciting dishes.

To start, check out our - how-to pluck a duck video here.

Then progress to the kitchen with these recipe ideas: The best breast, Thai red curry, Duck schnitzel burgers and the high and fast roast mallard.

Hot Barrels

Rhys Adams, Fish & Game Officer

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