Special Feature: Classic alpine hunting for big game species
New Zealand’s most elevated hunting grounds are found in the Mt Cook National Park in South Canterbury.
This breathtaking glacial park has the greatest concentration of 3000 metre high peaks in the country. Lesser peaks fan out in an endless snow-capped panorama with rock-studded slopes falling precipitously into the headwaters of the Rakaia, Rangitata and Waitaki river systems.
Red deer inhabit the forest slopes up to the 1000 metre bush line and make nocturnal forays onto the alpine pastures. They are widespread throughout all the elevated inland areas of South Canterbury but are kept under control by helicopter venison recovery operations.
Chamois have thrived in this classic alpine habitat and can be sighted on high rocky bluffs and faces in the Cook, Rolleston, Ohau and Leibig ranges. Thar congregate in herds more than chamois because of their gregarious nature. The snow tussock and alpine herb fields are threatened with extinction by severe grazing. Drastic control measures have been taken to reduce numbers in their main stronghold between the Dobson and Rangitata rivers and on the Cook Range.
Wild pigs are not so prevalent in this region being limited to the scrub and fern covered foothills of the Alps. Goats are relatively scarce and wild sheep have colonised the Waianakarue River. Wallaby have their own special haven in the Hunter’s Hills, 30 km from Timaru.
These Australian imports are the Bennett’s wallaby, which find good concealment in the rough gullies choked with snowgrass and flax. Successful shooting in this Recreational Hunting Area calls for careful viewing from the high ridges to pinpoint these bouncing balls of energy.
Mallard, grey and shoveler duck and Paradise shelduck are common throughout the region along with Canada geese and black swan, with good populations on Lake Ellesmere. Pheasant, quail and chukar are present in moderate numbers.
Guided red deer, thar and chamois hunting is available in Tekapo. Trophy hunting for red stags, fallow bucks, thar, chamois, goats, rams and wallabies can be organised in Christchurch, Ashburton and Fairlie.