Both Barrels May 2024 - Nelson/Marlborough

  • Nelson/Marlborough
  • 23/05/2024

Both Barrels May 2024 - Nelson/Marlborough

Opening Day Wrap-Up

Opening Day of the game bird season dawned foggy for many areas, which, as is the usual case, gave way to sunny conditions so by the afternoon hunters in Marlborough were wearing tee shirts!  We had two compliance teams in operation on the day, one in the Maruia Valley and another in the Rai/Pelorus area. In Maruia, the morning got off to a quiet start and more or less stayed that way for the day – there simply were not enough hunters keeping birds moving and the 15 or so licence-holders that were spoken to had fairly light bags. It would be fair to say this is one of the better duck hunting areas in this region, and anyone looking for a great place to hunt would benefit from a phone call or visit to a local farm to try and get access there for next season. The team then caught up with a few hunters in the Kohatu/Moutere area, with some groups doing well on parries but mallard numbers were light. The Rai/Pelorus team had a quiet day, with few hunters around, though the day was focused mostly on private land rather than public estuary areas. 

While we haven’t got the data from the game harvest survey, anecdotal feedback from other parts of the region indicates low numbers of birds around Motueka/Moutere Hunters did well in some Marlborough locales where water levels were suitable and ducks appeared to be concentrated providing great hunting, and we heard of some good shooting in parts of Golden Bay.

Pictured above: Joe and Harlee Cross. Lawson Davey checks two fully compliant hunters.


Para wetland shooting well

Para Wetland shot well over Opening Weekend due to the wetland maintaining higher water levels over the dry summer, meaning there was abundant food supply and water for mallard ducks. A handy rainfall in April also topped up the wetland and levels were optimal come the first Saturday in May. Nearly all the balloted wetland spaces were filled with hunting groups, and one long-time hunter mentioned that it was the most birds he’d seen in around 15 years hunting there, with one group eventually targeting drakes only.


While the wetland has many hunting spots, access can be difficult to some of these and a boat is required, however, there are several hunting spots to the main road where it is possible to park and walk 5-10 minutes to several constructed wetland areas. For evening hunting it is best in cloudy or windy conditions, or darker nights around the new moon phase. Fish & Game has spent a huge amount of money on this wetland over a long period on willow control, native restoration and pond construction and we encourage hunters to make use of this handy-to-town resource.


Facilitated hunting options

We encourage anyone with an interest in quail hunting to apply for a OneFortyOne forestry permit, which you can do here.

With this arrangement, you can get vehicle access to a huge area of forestry over four weekends of the game bird season. 

We also have three upland game hunts at Rabbit Island which you can get on the ballot for here. The draw for the first hunt is done, and the dates for the two remaining hunts are:

  • Saturday 22 June
  • Saturday 20 July

Our annual Pukeko drive at Wakapuaka is on Sunday 14 July, this hunt works best with more hunters involved, so register here and get your mates along. 

A dog is valuable, though you can still hunt forestry quail without them.

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