Otago is a game bird hunter's paradise.

The region offers hunters a wide variety of experiences, from decoying mobs of mallards over coastal wetlands, to flushing quail in high country scrubland and stalking Canada geese on mountain river beds.

Waterfowl hunting is a fascinating sport. If the Fish and Game staff can assist you to get more from your sport, we are only too happy to do so. Enjoy your hunting.

Otago Hunting Information

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

  • Wetlands and ponds: Otago staff are happy to discuss and visit a site to advise on wetland creation or enhancement.
  • Fish & Game New Zealand magazines: Our office and major 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.
  • Riverbank management: Otago staff can provide information to assist with the management of river banks to minimise erosion and provide sport fish and game habitat.

Land Access

A hunting licence does not give you access to any land. River beds 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.

Wildlife management reserves you can access exist in most Fish & Game regions, and many have permanent duck blinds, which are balloted for each year. Enquire at your local Fish & Game office or DOC office. Joining your local Fish & Game Council club or gun club will also put you in touch with other hunters who can give you additional information on where to hunt, and you may find a hunting partner.

Don't overlook the possibility of building your own dam or duck hunting pond. Most farms have a marshy area that could be ‘blown’ or a small stream that could be dammed to provide waterfowl hunting. Brochures from Fish & Game offices can advise on making ponds, that provide much-needed habitat for all the wildlife species that depend on wetlands for survival.


The stronghold of the mallard population is located 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 a little 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. Healthy quail populations are scattered throughout Central Otago and the southern lakes.

Permission from landowners is required before hunting, but using a polite approach, hunters are seldom refused and may even be given a few pointers.

More information: Contact our Dunedin Office otago@fishandgame.org.nz for advice on hunting and wetland creation.