Both Barrels April 2024 - Central South Island

  • Central South Island
  • 21/04/2024

Both Barrels April 2024 - Central South Island

Welcome to the 2024 Game Bird Season

Opening Day is Saturday the 4th of May.

At 6:45 am, it’s game on.

No matter the weather, 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, grab your credit or debit card and click here or head down to your local licence agent and grab one with your supplies.

Above: It's game on for the 2023 hunting season- credit Rhys Adams

2024 hunting regulations – CSI Region

Be sure to familiarise yourself with the 2024 regulations guide - available online here.

There are no changes to the local Central South Island Region regulations for 2024.

Please note - there is a printing error associated with the daily bag limit for grey/mallard.

The grey/mallard duck daily bag limit for 2024 is 50 birds per day in the CSI region (unchanged).

If you need any regulation clarified, please get in touch with a staff member here at our Temuka Office - PH: 03 615 8400, E:

Check your water levels!

Be sure to check the drought hasn't dried up your pond credit Rhys Adams

Drought conditions may have dried up the water at your hunting spot!

For example, when inspected in early April, the Māori Lake wetland at Wainono was bone dry.   

Be sure to check your spot ASAP, and if necessary, come up with a backup plan!

Many birds about?

Fish & Game Officer Nikki Dellaway surveys game bird populations at Wainono Lagoon photo by Rhys Adams

Overall, 2024 game bird numbers appear to be at moderate levels, typical of what long-time hunters have come to expect in the CSI region.  

Water levels, weather, and the number of nearby hunters are likely to be the biggest influence on the number of birds at your spot.

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

Wainono pre-season game survey – April 2024

Mallard numbers were relatively low, and paradise shelduck numbers were moderate.

Black swan and shoveler were in high numbers, and we expect plenty of opportunities to target these species at Wainono during the season.

Bonus info: Canada geese were plentiful!

Canterbury Plains/North Otago dabbling duck (mallard) survey – March 2024

Dabbling ducks, being the combined count of mallard, grey duck, grey teal, and NZ shoveler, were at moderate numbers across the Mid and South Canterbury Plains and North Otago.

CSI Regional Paradise shelduck moult survey – January 2024

Moderate numbers throughout the region but relatively low in the Mackenzie Basin.   

CSI Regional Black swan survey – January 2024

Moderate numbers in general but high at Wainono.

Accessing Wainono – Poindestres Road

Poingdestres Road Bridge, the access point to the Fish & Game owned Wainono Wetland Reserve and Southern access option for the DOC managed Wainono Lagoon, is temporarily closed to vehicle access.

Waimate District Council is currently assessing the condition of the bridge and what may be required to re-open it for vehicles. It is uncertain if the bridge will re-open to vehicles for the upcoming game bird season.

We are in contact with the District Council and will share access updates when possible. You can contact us directly for an update: PH: 03 615 8400, E:      

Walking and cycling access is still permitted over the Poindestres Road Bridge to hunt the Fish & Game Wetland Reserve, so go light on decoys and focus on scouting out flight paths and spots where birds mob up rather than relying on a big raft of decoys to attract the birds to you.

The other two popular access options are as follows:

The beach track, suited to ATV’s, accessed from Hook Beach Road, offers shoreline access from the Northern end of the Lagoon.

From SH1 at Nosh Café, a signposted access road leads to the Western shore of the Lagoon. This is a popular rowboat launching spot that regular hunters use to access the established mid-water and shoreline maimais. 

Top tips for kid companions

Look after your kid's hearing and get them some earmuffs-Credit Rhys Adams

Bringing kids along duck hunting at a young age can be a rewarding experience – even though they are not yet big enough to use a shotgun. Early season is the best time for kids before the frigid temperatures of June and July take hold.

Here are a few tips to make the experience fun and safe for all, which should keep the youngsters returning for more.

  1. Earmuffs – look after your kids' hearing and get them some earmuffs.
  2. Toy gun – give them a toy gun (it can just be a gun-shaped stick) so they keep their hands occupied.
  3. Dress them warm – if they get cold, you might need to cut the hunt short!
  4. Sweet treats – break up the day with treat breaks.
  5. Duck callers – with some pre-season practice, kids can blow a half-decent parry call.
  6. Expectations – lower your expectations of birds harvested as you’ll be distracted from incoming birds at times while you keep the kids safe, fed, watered and toileted.

Photograph your tag

Be sure to photograph your game tag in place.

Take a few photos to show the details on the tag and the exact place where the tag sits in context to your maimai, stake or geographical features.

In the unlikely scenario that someone tags your already tagged maimai after you have – photographic evidence may be vital in resolving the dispute.

Critically, be sure to turn on your locations tag in the camera settings of your smartphone – that will record the exact location along with a time and date.

Looking for a place to hunt after Opening Weekend?

A pair of mallard ducks harvested late season at a Fish & Game managed wetland - obtain a wetland permit and put yourself in the picture- credit Richie Cosgrove

CSI Fish & Game administer hunting at four wetlands.

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

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

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

While there, fill in the online permit application form and submit it for us to approve and supply to you.

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

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

Ducks are yummy; you can prepare and cook them in many delicious ways.

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 duck 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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