Our hunting FAQs cover the answers to our most frequently asked questions about game bird hunting in New Zealand.

You’ll find answers to some key questions below.

Remember, if you can't find what you are looking for, or for more information on any topic, please contact your local Fish & Game office, email the New Zealand Council or select here to fill in a question form.

Hunting FAQs

It is hunting for birds such as ducks, swans, pheasants, partridges and quail. The species available to game bird hunters are defined in the Wildlife Act 1953. Some of these birds are native to New Zealand (such as the paradise shelduck and the grey duck), while others were brought to New Zealand for hunting.
Fish & Game NZ is not responsible for any other kinds of hunting. We do not cover deer hunting (try the Deerstalkers Association).

Game Birds: The Wildlife Act 1953 schedule 1 defines the following species as wildlife declared to be game birds:

  • Black swan (Cygnus atratus) (except on Chatham Islands)
  • Chukar (Alectoris chukar): except on Chatham Islands
  • Duck:
    • Australasian shoveler (Anas rhynchotis)
    • Grey duck (Anas superciliosa) and any cross of that species with any other species, variety, or kind of duck (except on Chatham Islands).
    • Mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) and any cross of that species with any other species, variety, or kind of duck (except on Chatham Islands).
    • Paradise shelduck (Tadorna variegata)
  • Partridge:
    • Grey partridge (Perdix perdix): except on Chatham Islands
    • Red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa rufa): except on Chatham Islands
  • Pheasant—
    • any bird, not being a domestic bird, of the genus Phasianus and any cross of any such bird with any other species, variety, or kind of pheasant: except on Chatham Islands
  • Pukeko (Porphyrio melanotus) (except on Chatham Islands).
  • Quail—
    • Bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus): except on Chatham Islands
    • Brown quail (Coturnix ypsilophora): except on Chatham Islands
    • California quail (Callipepla californica): except on Chatham Islands

An adult game bird hunting licence costs $100 and a junior’s $22. You’ll find all the information on hunting licences and fees by clicking here.

These are found in the First Schedule section of the “Game Bird Hunting Guide” supplied free with your licence. Or else visit our page here, which has a short Q and A .

Each Fish & Game region has its own set of regulations working in conjunction with the national regulations. Details of all the hunting regulations can be found on our Hunting Regulations page here.

On that page you’ll also find links to the latest North and South Island hunting guides. They are a mine of information covering seasons, bag limits and much more. You should have received one when you bought your hunting licence, but you can download them here.

If you are setting out to build a maimai there is plenty of more detailed ‘how to’ advice here, including construction guidelines and plans.

Mastering duck calls will improve your success rate significantly. Adequate calling is not difficult, but requires some practice. You will find some general advice here

To learn more, there's a very good chapter on calling on our 'Introduction to Duck Hunting' DVD, available from your nearest Fish & Game office. And if you want to hear how the experts do it, click here to watch a video with Kiwi calling champion Hunter Morrow’s tips .

Firstly, gut your bird as soon as possible. Putting a good meal on the table begins the moment you shoot a duck, parrie, or other game bird. It’s essential that once you’ve gutted or breasted the bird, that you keep your game meat cool. Click here for lots of advice on plucking, gutting, breasting and cooking

Every hunter who sends in their band details by August 31st can go in the draw. One hunter can have multiple entries but it’s only one entry per duck band. There are other conditions – click here for details

You can win one of five great decoy packages from Hunting & Fishing.

Yes. The rules allow for upland game hunting (pheasant, quail) with lead. The reason behind this is that waterfowl are susceptible to lead poisoning through uptake of lead pellets - with lead normally being concentrated in or around shallow ponds, wetlands, and on the edges of deeper ponds.

For upland game, the spread of lead shot is much more diffuse and spent pellets are distributed over a wider area - making them less likely to be picked up by birds. Quail also select for a smaller grit size than most pellets used - therefore are less likely to be affected.

No. The rules will relate to the possession of lead for waterfowl hunting - so you can't chop and change in the field. If you are going duck hunting it's non-toxic shot eg steel shot, if you are hunting pheasants you can use either steel (or other non-toxic shot) or lead shot, if you are hunting both ducks and pheasant then its non-toxic only. However, you cannot simply say you were hunting pheasant.

It will be up to you to show the ranger that you are indeed hunting pheasant - no duck callers, no ducks hanging off your belt, etc and if you're sitting in the maimai with full camo gear... "I'm waiting for pheasants to fly past" won't wash either.

Non toxic shot will be required within 200m of water bodies over 3 metres wide of all PUBLIC AREAS (such as DoC land and lakes, Fish & Game areas, harbours) and all PRIVATE LAND (all wetlands and ponds).

All hunters are required to use non-toxic shot - this includes landowners/occupiers who can also hunt on their own land.