Please be aware at all times of local and national regulations to ensure the safety of others and the sustainability of game bird hunting.
The Taranaki region has many rivers, streams, creeks and ponds that provide good habitat for waterfowl. This translates into consistently good shooting and Taranaki hunters are among the most successful in the North Island.
Mallard duck is the predominant game species, with smaller numbers of grey duck present in backcountry areas.
In addition to the traditional pond and lake shooting from maimai, jump shooting along streams, rivers, drains and farm oxidation ponds is productive. Good evening shooting can also be had on farm dams, stubble fields and in paddocks where supplements are being fed to stock.
In dry summers many birds camp out in river beds and loaf on the larger stream and river pools. Targeting mallards in these areas using some overhead cover, a camo net and a few decoys can be a very successful approach. The key is to locate the birds beforehand but leave them undisturbed – then return to set up at dawn before the birds meander back from feeding.
Paradise shelduck are widespread throughout the region and they are the second most abundant gamebird after the mallard. Parrie numbers are highest in the Taranaki provincial area particularly on the ringplain surrounding Taranaki Maunga. Good mobs come into harvested maize paddocks, with other productive hunting sites being areas of new grass and paddocks where chicory has been grown. Paradise numbers are lower in the Waverley, Whanganui and Waimarino areas and hunters there should harvest only what they can use.
Pukeko are widespread throughout the region and farmers will welcome pukeko harvests from wetlands near maize growing or other cropping areas, where they can cause damage at planting time. The season for pukeko runs through to the last Sunday in August, with a daily bag limit of 10 in Area C and 5 in Areas A and B, to give hunters time to undertake pukeko drives following the end of the duck season.
The drier conditions this year have favoured upland game populations and a noticeable feature has been the number of late broods of both pheasant and quail seen around the region.
While there are few public hunting areas in the Taranaki region, there are plenty of places to hunt waterfowl on private land – it’s simply a matter of asking landholders for access. Once a hunter establishes a record of responsible behaviour, there’s usually no problem obtaining permission to hunt in following seasons.
This great game bird area has a large number of farm ponds, which, in conjunction with grassland and cropping areas, provide good shooting for parries and mallard duck. Numbers of parries have now stabilised in the Waimarino but are at a relatively low level and hunters should limit their harvest if they don’t have a use for the birds.
Whanganui has a number of coastal dune lakes that provide good hunting for mallard duck, paradise shelduck and black swan. There are also a significant number of hill country farm ponds that provide good hunting areas. Walking the streams or drifting down the larger rivers in a dinghy can also be productive.
This area contains more than 1,500 lakes, ponds and wetlands – mostly on private land. Fewer landowners are hunting these days and licence holders who are prepared to contact farmers to ask for access should have no difficulty in obtaining a place to hunt.
Mallard and grey duck populations are in good heart and after the traditional opening weekend pond shooting, ducks will seek refuge on the region’s many streams, rivers and farm oxidation ponds where jump shooting, or morning or evening shoots will be productive.
Paradise shelduck are also at good levels on the ringplain surrounding Taranaki Maunga and mobs will congregate in paddocks where supplements such as maize silage are being fed to stock, and on areas of new grass and recovering pasture.
In recent years, a three weekend summer special season for paradise shelduck has been held in Game Management Area C only in late February and early March. Please contact Taranaki Fish & Game in early February for details. To participate in the special season, hunters must hold a current game licence and obtain a permit. A $5 administration fee applies to all hunters, except those occupiers who hunt on the land they occupy.