Where to Hunt Game Birds

The Nelson/Marlborough Council has jurisdiction or ownership over a number of reserves and lands where game bird hunting takes place.

Land administered by Department of Conservation and District Councils requires hunters to gain permission and permits before they hunt.

Forestry companies also require hunters to obtain permits to enter their forests to hunt during the game bird season.  Fish & Game can supply permits for weekend hunting on OneFortyOne (OFO), and Tasman Pine Forests Ltd (TPFL) forest estates.  Hunters can also get their own season permits for hunting within OFO forests.

Forests are closed to hunting during weekdays and the spring and summer months.

Due to security problems, some companies require refundable key deposits.

Permission to hunt on all private land must be obtained from the landowner prior to hunting and this is usually granted to responsible hunters.

Golden Bay

golden bay

Golden Bay

Golden Bay is under utilized as a game hunting area and is well worth a visit.

Although traditionally a Grey Duck stronghold, mallard are abundant particularly in the coastal areas of the Aorere and Takaka Valleys.

Black Swan are in high numbers around Farewell Spit and good numbers are also found in Westhaven.

Canada geese also frequent the western coast from Farewell Spit to Lake Otuhie.

On modified and developed country paradise shelduck can be abundant.

Quail concentrate around the edge of broken bush and shrub land margins in the warm dryer country, especially towards the east of Golden Bay and the fringes of Abel Tasman National Park. Pukeko abound in wetlands adjoining developed pasture, particularly in the lower Aorere Valley.

Nelson / Motueka

Motueka Rivermouth opening morning ducks 2007 027

Motueka Rivermouth opening morning ducks 2007

Populations of mallard duck tend to exist in the coastal estuaries and lower country with farm ponds being productive at times.

Paradise shelduck can be found throughout the region in moderate numbers.

Good populations of quail exist on forest margins, recently felled forest areas and rough land throughout the district, although the hunting is often challenging due to thick scrub that makes any follow-up (after the initial flush) very difficult.

Good populations of pukeko exist in the Moutere/Mapua areas and as a result of increases in the population and crop depredation complaints in the past few years the “pukeko season” has extended to alleviate the problems.

Limited numbers of pheasant can be found scattered throughout orchards, foothills, forestry edges and river bermlands, particularly the Waimea, lower Motueka/Riwaka plains and the Moutere.

Buller / Murchison / Maruia

B7 Buller gorge

Buller gorge

The Buller/Murchison/Maruia area contains high populations of grey duck.

Paradise shelduck can often be found feeding on newly sown pasture.

Numbers of Canada geese are increasing in the Maruia Valley and provide opportunities for those who are prepared to travel.

Marlborough Low Country

Marlborough Bothams Bend ballot spot

Marlborough Bothams Bend ballot spot

The many rivers and streams, flats, estuaries, wetlands, and Marlborough Sounds offer excellent hunting opportunities.

Mallard duck are the dominant species with lower numbers of native ducks depending on location.

Higher numbers of grey ducks are found in the Marlborough Sounds and Pelorus Valley but please take care to identify your target because the area is home to an abundant grey teal population.

Canada geese can be hunted in the Wairau Lagoons and mid to upper Wairau River.

Black swans occur in moderate numbers in estuarine reaches.

Quail can be found scattered throughout most riverbeds, notably the Awatere, Wairau (upstream of Renwick) and Waihopai Catchments, where broken cover and scrub-lands exist.

Most quail hunting requires permission to hunt private land and this is usually granted to responsible and well-presented hunters.

Kaikoura & Marlborough High Country

marlb high country

Kaikoura Marlborough High Country

These areas offer some of the country’s prime Canada goose and quail hunting.

The East Coast has localised populations of mallard and further inland, grey duck.

There can be high numbers of paradise shelduck particularly on the East Coast and inland Kaikoura.

Pheasant Hunters

pheasant 2


Hunters who wish to access the Waimea Bermlands can obtain a map showing all the lessee boundaries and contact details from our office in Nelson.

Quail Hunters



Access permission and permits are required from forestry companies. Fish & Game have a formal upland game hunting arrangement with OneFortyOne (OFO) forests, and Tasman Pine Forests Ltd (TPFL), and permits for hunting on TPFL and OFO estate are now controlled through Fish & Game.  For more information contact the Richmond Office.


chukar 2


Chukar are found in parts of high country Marlborough, and are a challenging but very rewarding bird to hunt.

It is possible to hunt chukar in Nelson Marlborough during the upland game season, with a daily bag limit of two birds.

Fish & Game have facilitated access to parts of Molesworth Station for hunting chukar and quail.  Contact the main office for more information.

Hunting on the Wairau & Waimea Bermlands

wairau river marlborough

Wairau River Marlborough

Contact the Blenheim office for detailed information on areas in the Wairau which are available or unavailable to hunt by agreement with the Marlborough District Council.

Hunters wanting to access the Waimea berms must contact the Richmond office prior to hunting for advice on which areas are available, and information on other issues that may be of importance.

Para Swamp Game Management Areas

Para Ballot Spot 2

Para Ballot Spot

The Council now manages approximately 80% of the swamp.

Hunters are invited to make an application to hunt in this area on a ballot form that is available from the Blenheim office.

Para swamp is being developed to improve game bird hunting opportunities and new sites are becoming available with time.

Hunting in Wairau Lagoons

wairau lagoons1

Wairau Lagoons

Check out access information sheet here.

The Wairau Lagoons cover about 2000 hectares of saline marsh and mud-flats between the Wairau River mouth and the Vernon Estate to the south.

During the autumn and winter months the predominant species in the lagoon are game birds.

Protected species will also be seen in the lagoons during the open game season.

The protected grey teal population in particular is increasing and hunters must take care to positively identify their target.

Besides the obvious main channels in the northern part of the lagoons, and Te Aropipi Channel, which runs along inside the seaward Boulder Bank, few parts of the lagoons exceed a metre in depth.

The mud in some areas can however be very deep and care should be taken in unfamiliar areas.

Access can be gained via the end of Hardings Road, or off Redwood Pass Road (apply to the Blenheim or Richmond office for gate code (via permit only with strict access conditions - apply to Vaughan Lynn for gate code and access rules), or from the Wairau Bar using a boat.

Duck-hunting access is from the Wairau Bar using a boat.

The water is brackish and shotguns require careful cleaning.

Fresh water should be taken for gun dogs.

The former wildlife refuge status over Big Lagoon has been lifted to provide additional hunting opportunities.

The retention of this new hunting area will depend on the behaviour of hunters and adherence to the following code of conduct;

  • Fixed shooting stands above mean high water springs only.
  • Moored floating stands 200 metres from any other marked stand.
  • No plant material likely to drop viable seed to be used for maimai cover.
  • No disturbance to archaeological sites, artefacts or native plants.
  • No litter including spent cartridges.
  • Wheeled vehicles restricted to formed roads.
  • All boats restricted to five knots.
  • No dogs other than trained retrievers during the open game season.

A permit is required to hunt this area which is now issued through the Richmond Fish & Game office, on behalf of DOC Renwick. An access and information pamphlet is available from either office.

Additional Contacts for Permits

  • Marlborough District Council
  • Tasman District Council
  • Department of Conservation
  • OneFortyOne Forests
  • P F Olsen & Company


Nelson/Marlborough Hunting Spots