Both Barrels May 2024 - Northland

  • Northland
  • 23/05/2024

Both Barrels May 2024 - Northland

Dry start to the season


With lower than average rainfall from February through to May it was a very dry start to the 2024 season in Northland. Many hunters were forced to seek out a plan B in the face of dry ponds. Those hunters that had access to permanent water and that fed their sites pre-season had a clear advantage over opening weekend. Three weeks into the season and little has changed – the odd shower has come through but the soil remains dry.

Hunting can be challenging in these conditions as ducks stick to areas of permanent water and are well set in a routine. Once birds are found however, the hunting can be rewarding. As always time spent scouting will pay off and put the odds in your favour. Focus your attention on areas where there is permanent water, especially if it is close to a food source such as recently harvested grain. The main rivers are always a safe bet and can be hunted in a variety of ways; walking the banks with your dog, drift hunting from a kayak or vessel or setting up and waiting. If a decent group of birds is located, say 20 plus, your best bet for a maximum harvest will be to back out and set up in their camp with decoys in the early morning darkness to ambush them as they return from their feeding location. Harbours are also likely to hold more birds in dry conditions as well so get out on the water and look for where they are grouping up.

Take binoculars with you at all times and remember; if you spot a few ducks there is usually more than you can see!



Ten firearms were seized off hunters breaching the wildlife regulations. A number of offence notices were handed out. It is unfortunate that a small number tarnish the rest of the gamebird hunting community by not following the rules. 


Hunter Surveys and Game Returns

We will be conducting regular hunter surveys throughout the season. Staff will call a number of Northland gamebird license holders and ask them series of harvest related questions.

We collate the results to calculate how many birds were taken over the game season and in conjunction with the trend counts use this to determine bag limits and season lengths for subsequent seasons.

If you have hunted on any Fish & Game wetland or forestry block please remember to fill out a game bird return and send it to the office.


Upland Game Hunting

Northland Fish and Game have negotiated access to thousands of hectares of production pine forests. These forests are spread throughout Northland give the fit upland game hunter access to large areas of un-hunted ground. The forestry companies provide maps that show age classes of the trees so areas can be selected where suitable habitat and food is available. 


Northland Fish and Game Wetlands

Casual wetland permits are now available. These permits give the hunter the opportunity to sample some hunting on the properties owned and managed by Northland Fish and Game. These include:

Bisset Wetland (Carruth Road)

Greenheart (Bob Taylor Road)

Underwood Wetland (Hoanga Road)

Kawakawa Wetland (Station Road)

Borrow Cut (Jordon Valley Road)

Forestry and casual wetland permits are available by contacting the office by
Phone: 09 4384135, or following the link below.


Key Season Dates

Our season runs from opening weekend to 30 June 2024 for greys, mallards and shoveler ducks.

Paradise shelducks and swans can be hunted up until 28 July 2024

California quail, brown quail, cock pheasants and pukeko can be hunted out to 25 August 2024.

The paradise shelduck special weekend is for nine days from 15 February 2025 until 23 February 2025. Swan and pukekos can also be hunted during this time.

Bag limits:

  • Grey/mallard 12 birds per day
  • NZ shoveler 3 birds per day
  • Paradise shelducks 20 birds per day
  • Swan 20 birds per day
  • Pukeko 12 birds per day
  • California quail and brown quail 10 birds per day
  • Cock pheasant 5 birds per day


Duck bands

If you have shot a duck with a band please fill in the online form found here

You can also ring the free phone number 0800 BIRD BAND (0800-247322). You can keep the band for your lanyard, we just need to obtain a few details. 


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