Both Barrels May 2020

  • Nelson/Marlborough
  • 20/04/2020

Both Barrels May 2020

We only have a few days till the start of the unique 2020 game bird season.

Lot's of Nelson/Marlborough hunters travel out of the region for their hunting, but how about checking out some close to home options?

  1. Even though it’s delayed, we are still having an Opening day, so you can still revel in the excitement this builds leading up to the big day. You may be hunting in a different area, and perhaps with different people, but enjoy the anticipation anyway.
  2. Here’s your chance to get to hunt a new local area, or even revisit an old hunting haunt. Your pre-season scouting may lead you to some great hunting spots which you may not have known about, and which you can continue to visit during the season and in subsequent years.
  3. If you don’t already do so, this is your chance to hunt with your family. You may not always take your family members out on Opening Weekend, or at all, but here’s your chance to hunt with your bubble, and potentially introduce a family member to game bird hunting. Even if they are on the callers, or retrieving your birds, this is a fantastic family outing.
  4. This is a one-off. Remember this year and the situation we find ourselves in is completely extraordinary, and hopefully not likely to repeat itself in a hurry, so we should be back to normal next year. And, this year there is an added level of excitement, as New Zealand hunters have been in forced isolation for weeks, so we hope you really savour being in the outdoors hunting when the day comes.

Hunting Locally

In the not too distant past, public land hunting used to be the norm rather the exception, dozens of hunters would be out at river mouths and estuaries and it was a great occasion.

Most of the time, having good numbers of hunters around had benefits for everyone hunting, mainly for keeping the birds moving.

So, we encourage you to start thinking about your local hunting options.

Visit the Walking Access Commission website:

On this site there are multiple maps showing public areas where you, the hunter, can legally access for outdoor recreation, like the one pictured above.

There is even a designated hunting and fishing map which shows some of the public land hunting options in this region.

It’s possible to flip between topographic maps and aerial imagery to give you a better understanding on what the terrain is like.

This is a good place to start before investigating areas on foot.

There is also information on the Fish & Game website and in the regulation book. Visit:

Nelson Marlborough hunting locales that may appeal include Wairau Lagoons, Para Wetland (enquire with the Marlborough office first as this is a balloted wetland), Pelorus (Havelock) estuary and river, and all rivers and estuarine areas in around Motueka, Waimea, and in Golden Bay.

Even the braided Wairau River could be a good option, though hunting is not permitted within the bermland area downstream of the Waihopai River.

If possible, use the time before the season to scout a location, observe bird numbers and their movements, check the tides, and perhaps prepare a portable blind (or make use of natural vegetation).

Of course there will already be mai mai’s out in many public places, so remember, if they have been tagged for the 2019 season, the original hunter has the right to hunt there this year, otherwise, there may be unoccupied mai mai’s that you could use (though we discourage hunters building permanent mai mai’s if they are only going to be used infrequently).

We advise that you give other hunters 200+ metres of space as, let’s be honest, even though the rules state you can hunt a minimum of 90m away from another person, this is too close.

And don’t be afraid to ask a friendly farmer.

Some of your hunting (or even non-hunting) mates, may know a friendly farmer that has a pond or river/stream you could hunt.

Finally, if you’re not used to hunting in this region on Opening Day, you may have to adjust your expectations slightly on your Opening Day bounty – but this region does surprise the odd hunter from time to time, especially those who have prepared well.

Hot Barrels

Jacob Lucas, Nelson Marlborough Fish and Game

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