Hunt, gather, cook – The Game Bird Food Festival returns for 2017

  • 12/05/2017
  • Richie Cosgrove

Hunt, gather, cook – The Game Bird Food Festival returns for 2017

The Game Bird Food Festival is back on for 2017, giving hunters the opportunity to have their freshly harvested wild duck professionally cooked in a restaurant.

The game bird hunting season began on Saturday (6 May) with thousands of Fish & Game licence holders taking advantage of Opening Weekend to bag the makings of a duck dinner.

The food festival is a Fish & Game initiative to promote the variety and quality of wild harvested game and has attracted restaurants around the country. 

Right: Game bird Food Festival dish in The Old Vicarage Cafe, Restaurant & Bar Halswell Christchurch is a pan roasted North Canterbury Quail, smoked celeriac, roast baby beetroot, heritage carrots, broccolini, toasted almonds, roast baby turnips, red currant rosemary jus. 

Fish & Game’s communications manager Don Rood says the festival gives hunters a way of treating their family and friends to a game dinner.

“Successful hunters can take their bag into a participating restaurant, where a chef will cook and serve it,” he says.

Don Rood says game meat is a healthy option and hunters look forward to the opening of the season so they can re-stock their freezers.

“Game birds are terrific free range food and provide lean, tasty meat because they have grown up in the wild without chemical additives. 

Restaurants taking part in the festival are keen supporters of the idea of cooking a meal their guests have foraged for themselves.

3 Rotorua Regent Duck small P9084567“It is encouraging to see that some restaurants are taking this a step further by using other local ingredients in the dish”, Don Rood says.

Left: Game bird Food Festival dish in the Regent of Rotorua Restaurant & Wine Bar is a roast duck on savoy cabbage, pear potato, pink grapefruit sauce, and blueberry jelly. Local ingredients guaranteed. 

The game bird hunting season runs from May 6 to August 27, with hunters who have a 2017 Fish & Game licence able to pursue ducks, pheasant and quail.

“Hunting is ingrained into the New Zealand way of life and through the generations, people have taken pride in their ability to put game they have harvested on the family table.

“That tradition continues today, with a lively interest in foraging and gathering free range food and the game bird hunting season is very much a part of that,” Don Rood says.

He says this weekend is shaping up to be good for duck hunting, with rain and wind forecast over large parts of the country.

If hunters are successful, they can take their bag into a participating restaurant, as long as they meet a few conditions.

“Hunters must ensure their birds are well prepared – plucked, cleaned and oven ready.  Select the very best, top condition ducks from your bag and avoid any with shot damage,” Don Rood says.

“A bit of extra time and care devoted to preparing the birds will be rewarded by the chefs who want only the best ingredients to work with. Make sure your reputation as a hunter is equal to the challenge of having these top chefs prepare your dish to perfection,” Don Rood says.

The birds can only be cooked and served to the hunter and their guests.  Further details of the Game Bird Food Festival and participating restaurants can be found at



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