Wellington/Taranaki - Weekly Hunting Bulletin - 24 April 2024

  • Wellington Taranaki
  • 24/04/2024

Wellington/Taranaki - Weekly Hunting Bulletin - 24 April 2024

Not Long to Wait Til Opening! 

With less than two weeks 'til Opening Weekend (May 4 and 5), game bird hunters are getting hyped for the season ahead.

Ash ecstatic with her first retrieve last season (Credit: Hamish Carnachan)

There's still time to get sorted, just don’t leave your preparation and purchases to the last minute.

Your top priority is making sure you get your licence, then follow the handy checklist below to ensure you're all set to go. 

From next Thursday, May 2, we'll start sending our regular weekly Game Bird Hunting Bulletins with weather forecasts, reports and tips. 

In the meantime, here's some info and handy hints we hope will help you get set for the coming season.       

Season Prospects Looking Good  

Plenty of mallards sitting on a farm oxy pond - the ducks are where there's water (Credit: Allen Stancliff)

Dry late summer and autumn conditions have encouraged mallard ducks and other waterfowl to congregate on lakes and ponds that have retained permanent water.

Good duck camps have also been spotted on river bends, pools and estuary areas with exposed beaches for loafing. The larger lakes are holding lots of mallards too!

In some parts of Taranaki and Waimarino welcome rainfall last weekend put water in ponds and dams that were almost dry.

However, Manawatu and Wairarapa, and the south Taranaki and Whanganui, still remain fairly dry so the concentration of ducks on permanent water is unlikely to change much.

That said, Lake Onoke is currently blocked to the sea and the barrage gates are closed, meaning water will back up in Lake Wairarapa and hopefully flow into the surrounding wetlands.

Once the rain arrives, though, expect some spectacular hunting as the big mobs of birds break up and go in search of fresh water and what will be an abundance of feed in ponded/flooded paddocks and stubble-fields.

Notwithstanding the recent dry weather, it was another very good spring breeding season for waterfowl on the back of three years of favourable La Niña conditions.

This means the mallard population is healthy in the lower North Island resulting in both Wellington and Taranaki Fish & Game setting a 12-bird limit for mallard/grey duck for the 2024 season.

So, there's plenty to look forward to and certainly some great hunting on the cards in the coming weeks.  

Check out our 'Hunting News' newsletter below for more in depth analysis of the season prospects.          

Pre-Season Checklist  

MUST HAVES – Get them sorted early:

  • 2024 Game Bird Hunting Licence and regs guide.
  • Check up on your hunting mates.


  • Confirm access with landowners.
  • Grab a permit/access book if you need one for public areas for latest access requirements.


  • Shotgun – cleaned, patterned (if necessary), have a few practice shots.
  • Decoys – painted, rigged, and/or replaced.
  • Ammo – do a stock take; don’t leave topping up to the last minute as you'll end up with what other hunters don't want.
  • Dog – sharpened up on fitness and retrieving.
  • Check your wet weather gear - waders and jackets. 


  • Maimai is up to scratch – material for dressing is sorted for camo.
  • Maimai should be marked up by now.
  • Try not to disturb the birds on your pond too close to Opening.
  • If you don't have water at your hunting spot after the dry summer, make a fallback plan (see tips below).


Get everything sorted now, and it’ll make it easier and more enjoyable come May 5... Opening Day!

Dry Pond? Make a Contingency Plan

Paradise ducks on maize stubble and new pasture (Credit Allen Stancliff)

The dry summer and autumn has presented a challenge for some hunters ahead of Opening with some dry ponds and wetlands in the Wellington and Taranaki Fish & Game regions.

There is no shortage of mallards, they are just concentrated where there’s permanent water.

Hunters who are facing low water levels in the ponds they shoot will need to adapt and look for opportunities where the birds are holding – the ducks have adapted to the dry conditions, successful hunters will do the same. 

- Consider looking for duck camps in the larger rivers.

- Some of the coastal areas have good numbers of ducks holding as they wait for rain.  

- Door-knock some landowners. Politely make enquiries early, don't expect to turn up on the eve of Opening and be given a green light. 

- Target pukeko. Pukeko drives can be great sport with mates and contrary to what some say they are delicious eating when prepared properly.

- Hit the parries - there are still large congregations of paradise ducks on late harvest maize and newly sown pasture. Do the farmers a favour and get into them.  

- Quail love the dry conditions we've experienced and have had several good breeding seasons. There's no reason why you can't get amongst upland game early in the season. 

As always, make sure you have permission to shoot in the area you plan to hunt, and advise neighbouring landowners as a courtesy. 

There's still plenty of time to scout around and make a plan so you can enjoy Opening and make the most of the coming season! 


Hunting News  

You may already have received a copy of our 2024 'Hunting News' in the mail (if not, the newsletter should hopefully arrive soon). 

Click on the cover image above to download a digital version and catch up on the season prospects, new hunting opportunities, recipes, news on what we've been up to and a heap of handy tips to make your season more successful.  

Band Returns Needed

Wairarapa hunter Mark Atkinson lending a hand with duck banding (Credit Hamish Carnachan)

If you harvest any birds carrying precious metal bands, or have bands from previous seasons you haven't told us about, please let us know.

You’re welcome to keep the band, we just need some basic details such as where and when you got it.

The banding programme plays an important part in helping uis manage the mallard duck population in Wellington and Taranaki Fish & Game - help us by playing your part and getting the info to Fish & Game.

Must-see TV 

Don't miss the waterfowl episode of NZ Hunter Adventures. 

Season 10, Episode 8 – Sees Fish & Game NZ’s CEO Corina Jordan and top wild game chef Dariush Lolaiy join the team to harvest some late season mallards for an elaborate duck dinner.

Click the screenshot above to watch. 

Dose You Duck Hunting Dogs 

It only takes one infected dog to cause a catastrophic sheep measles outbreak.

The tapeworm Taenia ovis cause sheep measles. Its immense ability to reproduce is the largest challenge facing prevention. The tapeworm requires the dog and sheep/goat to complete its lifecycle. There is no way of knowing if your flock is infected until slaughter, and dogs usually show no symptoms of infestation either.

Therefore, the easiest way to prevent the disease is to routinely dose dogs that reside near sheep every month with the single active ingredient Praziquantel. Dogs that are visiting sheep farms should be dosed at least 48 hours to ensure any potential tapeworms are flushed out.   

A sheep measles outbreak on a farming property can cost the farmer and processor thousands of dollars. On a larger scale, meat inspectors can only detect 20% of infections due to the site which cysts embed. If contaminated sheep meat reaches the market, the entire industry is at risk.

All dog owners have a part to play in ensuring that sheep meat produced by New Zealand farmers is free of sheep measles. It is important to take preventative measures seriously.



If you have a game bird hunting related message or information you'd like us to publish on this noticeboard, please contact the Wellington Fish & Game office on (06)359-0409 or flick us an email.  

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