Otago is a game bird hunter's paradise.

Otago offers game bird hunters a wide variety of experiences, from decoying mobs of mallards over coastal wetlands, calling in paradise shelducks onto farm paddocks, to flushing quail in high-country scrubland.

Otago Hunting Information

Fish & Game Otago has all sorts of information to help your game bird hunting:

  • Otago Fish and Game Council Facebook page: Follow us on Facebook for regular updates.
  • Both Barrels: Subscribe to our monthly game bird e-newsletter during the hunting season.
  • Fish & Game New Zealand magazines: Our office and licence agents have free additional copies of the Fish & Game magazine.
  • Hunting advice: We can advise you on all aspects of hunting and hunting areas.
  • Wetlands and ponds: Otago staff are happy to discuss and visit a site to advise on wetland creation or enhancement.

Land Access

A hunting licence does not give you access to any land. Riverbeds of the larger rivers are usually Crown-owned, but you should still clear access to these with the appropriate local council. All farms are privately owned and permission must be obtained first from farm owners, but make your enquiries about access for the shooting season after the lambing season (October), and before the end of February as this is a fairly quiet time for most farmers.

Otago Fish & Game has several wildlife management reserves you can access. Many have permanent maimais, which are balloted for each year. Click on the panels above to learn more about ballots, permits and Fish & Game-managed wetlands. 

Consider the possibility of building your own hunter-assisted wetland. Most farms have an unproductive, marshy area that could be restored. Applications to our Habitat Enhance Fund can be made to support this restoration work.

Maimai plans

Otago Fish & Game have some simple plans and you can watch this video that gives you insight into how to build it.


The stronghold of the mallard population is in the fertile and productive farmlands of south and west Otago. Large numbers of mallards can also be found on coastal estuaries, the Lake Waihola/Waipori wetlands, Lake Tuakitoto, Lower Taieri and Upper Taieri wetland areas.

Lakes Waihola and Waipori are two large coastal lakes set in a wetland complex including the renowned Sinclair Wetlands. The lakes and much of the wetland complex is publicly owned and hunters can claim a hunting possie.

After the opening weekend rush, there is always a vacant maimai to hunt from and some good bags are taken right through the season. The same can be said for Lake Tuakitoto further south and the lower Clutha and Taieri rivers.

Californian Quail

Upland game hunting for Californian quail is generally done on private property, mostly high-country sheep stations in the drier parts of Central Otago, including the Earnscleugh, Omakau, Bannock Burn, Ida, Patearoa and Tarras areas, to name a few. Quail populations are scattered throughout the Central Otago and Southern Lakes districts. Permission from landowners is required before hunting.

Public Land Opportunities

Game bird hunting on Department of Conservation managed land is available in certain areas and to hunt there you require a DOC game bird hunting permit. DOC game bird hunting permits are not available from the website, instead you must obtain them and any other localised information by directly contacting the relevant DOC office. The permits detail the restrictions and conditions to the DOC district issuing the permit. Be sure to abide by these conditions as this will ensure hunting continues to be available on DOC land in future.

For DOC locations where you are able to hunt game birds in Otago, click here.

DOC District Office Contacts:

Kā Moana Haehae / Alexandra Office - 0800 275 362

Whakatipu-wai-Māori / Queenstown Office - 0800 275 362

Ōtepoti / Dunedin Office - 03 474 3300

On or Near Public Land

Hunters must be careful and considerate around other people and their property. When hunting on or near public land be aware of two relevant sections of the Arms Act 1983 – sections 45 and 48.