Perfectly timed photo wins award for South Island photographer

  • 13/01/2020
  • Richie Cosgrove

Perfectly timed photo wins award for South Island photographer

Marlborough photographer Matt Winter’s expertly timed photo of two paradise shelducks in perfect symmetry has won the inaugural Game Bird Habitat Trust’s photo competition. 

It is incredibly rare for a photographer to be able to capture two birds in flight and in perfect symmetry.


Photographer Matt Winter

The stunning photo was judged the best paradise shelduck photo by Judges Mark Mitchell (award winning NZME photographer based in Wellington) and Richard Cosgrove (former Fairfax Media Visual Manager).

“The timing and symmetry of the photo, with both birds in unison made it stand out from the other entries” Mark Mitchell said. 

Winter says “the picture was taken whilst out duck hunting with a couple of mates on the West Coast and when these two birds lifted off it made for a great series of photos, but this one with the clean background just stood out to me”. 

Winter an author of several books and articles on the New Zealand outdoors is often out “hunting” with a camera.

Asked what the secret is to great wildlife photography; “is patience - patience in many forms. The patience to learn about your game and the patience to spend many hours out in the field waiting for that perfect photo”.

The winning photo will be now used as the 2020 game bird habitat stamp.

This stamp is sold on gamebird hunting licences and as a collectors stamp by NZ Post and raises funds for the protection and enhancement of game bird and other wildlife habitat. 


Matt has signed 250 stamps and 250 prints for collectors which are available via NZ Post.

The Wildlife Act 1953 states that a game bird habitat stamp be displayed on every licence to hunt gamebirds.

The stamp is approved annually by the Minister of Conservation on the recommendation of the New Zealand Fish & Game Council. 

Game birds and other native species are threatened by diminishing habitat such as wetlands, margins and scrublands. 

New Zealand now has less than 10% of the wetlands that were present in pre-European times. 

Wetlands and margins have often been regarded as unproductive and have been drained converted into land for agricultural, commercial and housing development. 

Purchases of the Habitat Stamp provide the core funds for the Game Bird Habitat Trust to distribute to projects that protect and restore game bird habitats. 

Each year a different species is selected for the stamp and the 2021 game bird species is the NZ Shoveler (spoonbill) and the 2022 bird is the pheasant. 

A photo competition will be held for both birds later this year with a $1000 cash prize to the winner.

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