Where to Hunt Game Birds
Hunting in Taranaki
Game bird hunting regulations 2019-20
Click here for Taranaki's game bird hunting regulations for the 2019-20 season.
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 and mallard and grey numbers are looking good for the 2019 game season, thanks to excellent breeding seasons in 2017 and 2018 which ensured a high base population going into 2019.
In addition to the traditional pond and lake shooting from maimai, jump shooting along streams, rivers, drains and farm oxidation ponds will be productive. Good evening shooting can also be had on farm dams, stubble fields and in paddocks where supplements are being fed to stock.
The dry summer has also meant many birds have been camped out in river beds and loafing 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 in the Taranaki provincial area have rebounded from last year, with the highest numbers present on the ringplain surrounding Mt Taranaki. Good mobs have been coming 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 August 25, 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.
Waimarino/Ruapehu (Area A)
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 at a relatively low level and hunters should limit their harvest if they don’t have a use for the birds.
Whanganui (Area B)
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.
Taranaki Province (Area C)
This area contains more than 1,500 lakes, ponds and wetlands – mostly on private land. Fewer landowners are hunting these days and licenceholders 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 Mt Taranaki 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 two weekend summer special season for paradise shelduck has been held in Game Management Area C only. Please contact the Whanganui or New Plymouth offices of Fish & Game NZ in early February for details. To participate in the 2020 special season, hunters must hold a 2019 game licence and obtain a permit. A $5 administration fee applies to all hunters, except those occupiers who hunt on the land they occupy.
Scattered populations of pheasant and California quail are present in coastal sand country, in pine plantations and in areas of bush and scrub, such as those adjacent to streams and rivers and in sheep and beef country. Most of these areas are on private farmland so the appropriate permission should be sought. Favourable breeding conditions in recent years have meant that areas of good habitat are currently holding reasonable numbers of pheasant.
Permits are available free of charge from the Whanganui office of Fish & Game for upland game hunting in Harakeke Forest and Nukumaru Recreation Reserve.