Southland offers a range of gamebird hunting opportunities, and we have the most consistent mallard hunting in the country.

Our Opening Weekend bag averages 12 birds per hunter, with a season bag usually totalling between 25 to 35 birds.

Most of the gamebird hunting in Southland is carried out on private wetlands on farms. As most Southlanders have family or friends that farm, hunters are encouraged to work their contacts or politely go door knocking. There are opportunities there for people prepared to put the leg work in.

Public land hunting occurs within the surveyed river margins of our main stem rivers and in our coastal lagoons. The hunting opportunities here should not be overlooked. Calling and decoying birds over public water offers a great reward.

During Opening Weekend in Southland, hunting access can be highly competitive, with people traveling from afar to enjoy the camaraderie. There are significant opportunities throughout the region, including over Opening Weekend, for mobile hunters using portable camouflage who are willing to scout. For example:

  • Paddock-based hunting for mallard ducks and Paradise Shelduck. Recently grazed dairy paddocks, especially if cows are being fed whole crop or grain, can be excellent. Similarly, recently harvested grain stubble paddocks can offer great morning and evening hunting.
  • Hunting in areas where water has ponded after rainfall events, known as ephemeral (temporary) water. These areas often provide prime foraging habitat for mallard ducks.

There is a correlation between the climatic and soil moisture conditions during the egg incubating and brood rearing season (October being the most critical month) and the Opening Weekend harvest. So, Fish & Game staff closely follow the weather patterns during that time as an indication of what hunters can expect come game season. Although, hunters have learnt that the only thing they can expect is that Opening Day is likely to be still and sunny!

The mallard/grey duck are the most targeted gamebird in Southland. These birds are often in great eating condition, having been well feed courtesy of Southland farmers. If they are looked after and cooked well, they provide a great food resource.

Paradise shelduck, NZ shoveler drakes and black swans are the other gamebirds available in Southland. These birds are more often shot opportunistically, rather than being targeted specifically.

Although, they are no longer a gamebird, Canada Geese remain valued by our hunters. Their numbers are as abundant as ever and Fish & Game encourage licence holders to utilise their skills and equipment to help keep the population in check.