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Can I take a shotgun onto public conservation land?

The short answer is not legally without a permit, and there are several considerations before a permit will be issued.

Firstly what is a shotgun?
A shotgun is a long firearm fired for m the shoulder what has a smooth
bore and is capable of shooting either pellet (shot) or slug type
projectiles. (Note: Rifled barreled shotguns are meant for shooting single type projectiles and hence can be regarded as rifles with large bores. A further consideration would be if the barrels were interchangeable eg rifled to smooth.

What is the issue with using shotguns?
Historically there has been a reluctance to issue permits for the use of
shotguns based on the perceived threat to native birds, especially keruru (wood pigeons), and although not the only reason this is still valid today. Any consideration for shotgun use will need to address the following:

Threat to native birds: This is probably the most difficult to address as it seeks to examine the motive and integrity of the hunter. Other, less subjective, factors that are considered include:
-­‐ Are there native birds in the area likely to be attractive to hunting?
-­‐ Is there a history of native bird shooting in the area?
-­‐ Are there alternatives available to shotgun use in the area or quarry to be hunted?

Animal Welfare: The onus here is to ensure that the firearm permitted for use is capable of effecting a humane killing of the animal hunted. Considerations include:
-­‐ Hitting power/effective range: Although a shotgun slug has considerable energy at short range, it sheds that energy very quickly and shouldn’t be considered for shooting over much more than 100m.
-­‐ Alternatives available: High powered rifles, that can be expected to result in a humane kill, are available in suitable calibres and accompanying ammunition for all game animal species encountered in New Zealand.

Public safety: On the surface, a firearm that has limited effective range would appear to be safer than one with a much longer distance, but that is not necessarily the case, given:
-­‐ Most shooting fatalities in New Zealand occur at less than 30 metres.
-­‐ If using shot cartridges the lateral trajectory is greatly increased by
the dispersing pattern of shot.

When will a permit be issued?
There are situations where the use of shotguns can be expected to be permitted
as “common or compulsory usage” and others where a more “searching”
discretion may be applied.

Can I shoot sheep on public conservation land?

The initial answer is maybe.

The Department’s online hunting permit covers the recreational hunting of Pigs, Chamois, Tahr, Wallaby, Goats and Deer in open hunting areas but doesn’t cover the shooting of sheep.

Therefore, to hunt sheep on public conservation land a hunting permit is required from the DOC office administering the area to be hunted.

When assessing whether or not to issue a permit, the status of the sheep will be a major part of the consideration.
Trespassing Stock: This covers sheep that for a number of reasons (ear tags/arks, docked, recently shorn, cruthed, breed, fencing situation) the Department could be expected to know that they have an owner. The process of dealing with trespassing stock calls for the Department to make reasonable efforts to establish who the owner is and give them the opportunity to remove the stock.
Feral Sheep: These are animals that have maintained populations in a wild state (no animal husbandry, not ear marked, not shorn, not docked, not cruthed etc) over a reasonable long period of time and as
a result have developed characteristics differing from domestic sheep,
e.g. when disturbed feral sheep run for cover whereas domestic sheep tend to run into the open.

Once it is established which of the above two categories apply, further consideration as to permitting the shooting of sheep includes the following.

• Trespassing Stock:

-­‐ The Department has attempted to establish ownership and this has been unsuccessful.

-­‐ The original owner of the sheep has given permission for them to be shot. This could be for a number of reasons e.g. unsuccessful in mustering the sheep in, sheep are re-­‐infesting others held with lice etc.

• Feral Sheep: In New Zealand there are 12 recognised feral sheep populations – 8 on the mainland and 4 on islands. Where these populations occur on DOC administered land, they would be available for hunting e.g. NE Ruahines, Waianakarua Scenic Reserve in Coastal Otago.

Given the above, if anyone wishes to shoot sheep on public conservation lands, the course of action is to apply for a permit at the DOC office nearest the hunting area and, in the case of trespassing stock, be prepared for the application to be declined, at least initially.

What’s the situation with hunting at night, including spotlighting?

The Department has imposed a ban, part of hunting permit conditions, on shooting at night (½ hour after sunset to ½ hour before sunrise) as a safety measure, primarily for other people who may be in the same area as a hunter.

Therefore, spotlighting as well as the use of night vision equipment is not permitted on public conservation land. Whilst a spotlight etc. may illuminate the target, the backdrop can remain in increasing darkness as distance increases, and it is often not possible to identify what is in the background. Side vision is
also restricted to the extent of the light source or night vision scope field of view.
Coupled with the often lack of vision is the situation where, in a lot of areas, people may camp or walk anywhere at any time.

Anyone who has purchased, or is contemplating purchasing, spotlights, night vision scopes, thermal imaging scopes etc. with the object of hunting at night should be aware that the activity is not permitted on public conservation land.

Can I hunt Game Birds on Public Conservation Lands?

Game Birds can be hunted in some areas, subject to the following conditions.

Game Birds are those species listed in Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Act 1953. To hunt Game birds, a hunter will need:
• Game Bird hunting is not available in all areas.

• A Game bird Hunting Licence from Fish and Game New Zealand.

• A DOC Game Bird hunting permit. These permits are for specific areas and periods and are issued by the DOC office managing the area concerned. (Note: Fish and Game conditions re hunting seasons, bag limits etc. apply. The Fish and Game conditions can’t be exceeded but the Department can, for example, limit hunting time per hunter at a site to enable more hunters to have the opportunity to hunt on Public Conservation Areas.)

• Canada Geese are not classified as Game Birds and are added to a small game hunting permit for those wishing to hunt Canada Geese.
• Game Birds can be in two main categories: “Waterfowl” (ducks, swan)
and “Upland” (partridge, quail, pheasant). The two types occupy

different habitats and this, coupled with other users at these sites, will be a consideration for approving managers.

Can I hunt with a bow?

Hunting with bows is permitted on Open Hunting Areas (permits available on “online permit system”) and is discretionary for other areas e.g. restricted areas covered by local permits.

Bow hunting is subject to standard conditions below (Listed on the DOC

Bow hunting minimum criteria

• Minimum drawing weight factor 15 kg (35 lb).
• Minimum diameter of two opposing blades is 22 mm (7/8 in).
• Only non-­‐barbed hunting arrows are permissible.
• Arrows with any poison, explosive or other chemical substance on or in the head or shaft are not permitted.

Crossbow minimum criteria

• Minimum drawing weight factor 68 kg (150 lb).
• Minimum diameter of multi-­‐bladed head is 22 mm (7/8 in).
• Minimum length of complete arrow is 400 mm (16 in).
• Only non-­‐barbed hunting arrows are permissible.
• Hunting arrows must not be placed into a loaded crossbow under any circumstances unless target is located. Crossbow must have a positive mechanical safety device in working order.
• Arrows with any poison, explosive or other chemical substance on or in the head or shaft are not permitted.

Types of hunting permits/areas?

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The Department has different types of hunting areas (reflecting access conditions) covering different types of animals hunted.

Hunting Areas:
• Open. Subject to “standard conditions” and permits available through
“online permit system”.
• Restricted. Conditions may vary from area to area, and discretion as to issuing a permit or not rests with the local manager.
• Closed. Those areas where no hunting is permitted. (Public safety consideration or no game animals present.)Animals hunted:

• Deer, Pigs, Goats, Chamois, Tahr, Wallabies. Covered by “online permit system” or game animal section of “standard DOC hunting permit”.
• Rabbits, Hares, Canada Geese, Feral Geese. Covered by “Small Game permit”.
• Game birds. Covered by “Game bird section” of “standard DOC hunting permit”.

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Where – Open (1)

Where – Restricted (2)

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Big game: Deer, pigs, chamois, tahr, wallabies

Apply through ‘Online Permit System’ or at a DOC office or a Visitor Centre for an ‘Open area hunting permit’.

Apply at the DOC office nearest to the hunting area for a restricted area hunting permit.

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Small game: Rabbits, hares, Canada Geese, feral geese.

Not Applicable

Apply at the DOC office nearest to the hunting area for a ‘Small Game Permit’.

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Game birds

Not Applicable

Apply at the DOC office nearest to the hunting area for a ‘Game Bird Permit’. (NB: You must also have a ‘Game Bird Hunting Licence’ issued by NZ Fish & Game Council.)

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(1) Open areas: Generally areas that apart from the standard hunting permit conditions have few, if any, additional restrictions. To ascertain if an area is an ‘open’ area either look at the online permit system or contact a DOC office or visitor centre.
(2) Restricted areas: These are areas that due to a number of reasons (eg. Safety, open for limited times, intended quarry) have additional conditions that may apply.

Can I hunt Canada Geese?

Canada Geese status changed 9 June 2011 when they were transferred from
Schedule 1 to Schedule 5 of the Wildlife Act 1053.

This change meant that Canada Geese were no longer protected as “game birds” and that anyone could hunt or kill geese at any time of the year without the need for a game licence

Hunters wanting to hunt geese on public conservation land still need to obtain a hunting permit but no longer need a game licence.

There is also no longer a need to comply with other game hunting regulations when hunting or killing geese – such as having to shoot the birds with a shotgun while the bird is in flight. Geese can be killed by any humane means, including when they are flightless during their annual moult. The use of poison is not allowed as there is no poison registered for use in goose control.

For safety reasons it is recommended that shooting of Canada Geese on Public Conservation Lands be permitted with shotguns only.

See DOC CM 1151161 for report on “Shooting Canada Geese with rifles on Public Conservation Lands”. This report looks at the safety aspects of shooting geese with rifles.

If I’m hunting “under immediate supervision” do I need a permit?

The answer is yes.

Immediate supervision allows (under the Arms Act, 1983) a person without a
“Firearm Licence” to use a firearm if accompanied by a Firearms Licence holder.

Arms Code definition of “immediate supervision”: No matter how old you are, if you do not have a firearms licence but want to use a firearm, you may do so
only under the immediate supervision of someone who has a firearms licence. In other words, the person with the licence must be with the shooter, and close enough to take control of the firearm if necessary. To meet this requirement the
supervisor cannot be using a firearm at the same time. Generally this means that there will only be one firearm between the two people.

Whilst the Arms Act covers the “under immediate supervision” aspect, the Conservation Act 1987 covers the aspect of hunting on Public Conservation Lands.

Conservtion Act 1987: Section 38 (4) Every person commits an offence against this Act who knowingly and without a permit in that behalf issued under subsection (1) of this section

(a) Discharges any hunting weapon on, into, or over any conservation area, or
(b) Molests or pursues any animal in a conservation area, or
(c) Captures, kills, poisons, tranquillises, traps or immobilizes by any means any animal in a conservation area.

Therefore, if a person wishes to shoot an animal “under immediate supervision”, they still require a permit issued by the Department.

Can I shoot from a boat?

Generally the answer is no.

The standard DOC hunting permit conditions allow for “ground-­‐based” non-­‐
commercial hunting and hence shooting from a boat is not covered.

To shoot from a boat on waters administered by the Department, two considerations apply.
• Approval for entry with a boat.
• Actual shooting from a boat.

Conservation Act 1987 Section 38(4)(e) sets out the requirement to be authorized to hunt from a Ship which, in the Act’s interpretation section, means a ship, boat, hovercraft, raft or vessel of any description used, or designed to be used, in navigation.

Hence, a local manager could authorize shooting from a boat considering issues such as visitor safety, impact on visitor experience etc.

For gamebird shooting, Fish and Game NZ set local conditions such a period allowed and the non-­‐use of mechanical power.

Some District Councils with harbor responsibilities have bylaws covering shooting from boars e.g.
Marlborough District Council Navigation Bylaws 2002.

2.5 Discharge of Fire Arms
No person may discharge a fire arm on board any ship except as provided for in Maritime Rules Part 23 – Operating Procedure and Training, Appendix 3, Distress Signals – without prior written permission from the Harbour Master or Enforcement Officer.

Can I hunt with a dog?

The answer depends on where and under what entry conditions will apply.

Under the standard hunting permit entry with dogs is not automatic and hence must be authorised specifically by separate permit or endorsement through
‘special conditions’ on a permit.

When considering the authorising the use of dogs a manager will look at possible impacts and how to mitigate these.
• Impact on wildlife such as flightless birds such as kiwi or weka.
Some areas permit dog use subject to dogs having been bird
aversion trained.
• So many dogs that a hunter has trouble keeping them under control or knowing what all are doing at any one time. Dog numbers are often limited per hunter or party.
• Dog use conflicting with other visitors in high visitation areas.
Some areas have ‘dog exclusion’ or ‘dog on a lead’ zones.
• Private access with limitation on dogs. Some permit access with
‘dogs on a lead’ only.

NB: Dogs for Search & Rescue, Guide dogs, Companion dogs do not require authorization.

Can I shoot Kaimanawa horses if encountered when out hunting?

The answer is no.

Because a standard hunting permit covers the shooting of goats, pigs, deer, wallabies, chamois and thar only, hence wild horses are not covered.


• These horses have had protection in a specified area under the Fourth Schedule of the Wildlife Act 1953 since 31st August 1981. This schedule lists wildlife not protected, except in areas and during periods
specified. The order cited as Wildlife Order (no 2) 1981, protects
horses known as the Kaimanawa wild horses within a specified area.
• Any shooting of horses outside a specified area (as per Order (no 2)
1981}would require a restricted permit and in line with the
Department’s management of the herd these would not be issued.

Does each individual in a hunting party need a permit?

The answer is yes.

Under the Conservation Act 1987 Section 38 part (4) every person commits an offence against this Act who knowingly and without a permit in that behalf issued under subsection (1) of this section, (or section 26zzh of this Act), or knowingly and otherwise than in compliance with any conditions subject to which a permit has been issued,
(a) Discharges any hunting weapon on, into or over any conservation area: or
(b) Molests or pursues any animal in a conservation area: or
(c) Captures, kills, poisons, tranquillizes, traps, or immobilizes by any means, any animal in a conservation area.

Do I need a permit if hunting without a firearm?

The answer is yes.

Under the Conservation Act 1987, Section 38 Part (4), every person commits an offence against this Act who knowingly and without a permit in that behalf issued under subsection (1) of this section, (or section 26zzh of this Act), or knowingly and otherwise than in compliance with any conditions subject to which a permit has been issued,
(a) Discharges any hunting weapon on, into or over any conservation area: or

(b) Molests or pursues any animal in a conservation area: or
(c) Captures, kills, poisons, tranquillizes, traps, or immobilizes by any means,
any animal in a conservation area.

NB: If hunting with a knife a hunter would still be subject to the above, Part (4) (b) ‘pursues’ and (c) by any means.

Does the Animal Welfare Act apply to hunting?

The answer is yes.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 whilst the hunting or killing of wild game animals is permitted it is not acceptable to hunt or kill an animal in ‘such a manner that the animal suffers unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress.’

What is the NZ Game Animal Council?

The NZ Game Animal Council is a statutory body established on 28th November
2013 under the Game Animal Council Act 2013.

Key functions of the Council include:
• Advising and making recommendations to the Minister of Conservation on hunting issues.
• Providing information and education to the sector.
• Promoting safety initiatives.
• Conduction game animal research.
• Undertaking management functions for designated herds of special interest.
The Game Animal Council mission statement is:
‘Sustainable management of game animals and hunting for recreation, commerce and conservation.’

Game Animal Council website:

Can I shoot other animals when hunting deer eg rabbits?

The answer is strictly speaking no.

This is because a standard hunting permit covers the shooting of pigs, goats, deer, wallabies, tahr and chamois only, hence other animals are not covered. Note:

• Small game permits are available for hunting rabbits, hares and Canada geese.
• As long as safety considerations are applied the Department is not likely to be concerned, if, for example, a hunter shot a wild cat or stoat encountered while hunting deer.

Does a permit give me exclusive rights to an area?

The answer is no.

A hunting permit authorizes the holder to hunt on public land administered by the Department of Conservation, but does not confer any exclusive use of an area.
When hunting on public Conservation Lands, hunters should expect to see
someone, somewhere, anytime!

• In some instances, for example a game bird hunter may have exclusive hunting rights for an area, but that does not mean that no hunters can’t access the area.
• In some ballots run by the Department a successful hunter (s) may be the only one (s) able to fly into an area for hunting, but others may still be present in the area.

Can I light a camp fire when hunting?

The answer is yes if certain conditions are complied with.

Department policy on camp fires:
Campfires (an approved fire)
It is recognized that campfires will continue to be lit on Department land.
Department staff will discourage the lighting of fires in the open other than the use of gas cookers or approved permanent fire places. Any camp fire must be extinguished before individuals leave the campfire area.

An ‘approved camp fire’ is any fire (for the purposes of camping, cooking, comfort or warmth) that is not:
I. Within three metres of any tree or any place underneath overhanging vegetation; and
II. within three metres of any log or any dry vegetation; and
III. lit unless and until the ground surface within three metres if the site has been cleared of all combustible material; and
IV. lit where notices and advertising are present which specify the lighting of fires only in other types of receptacle or place;
V. lit during a Prohibited Fire Season.
VI. lit in conditions where wind or other factors may cause the fire to escape.

(Comment editor: For reasons above it is a good idea to have pubic liability insurance. In the event of an unwanted and destructive fire you will be covered)

Can I shoot Pukekos?

The answer is yes, at certain times and under certain conditions. Note:
For hunting pukeko as a sport: Pukeko are classified as ‘Wildlife declared to be Game’, under the First Schedule of the Wildlife Act 1953. This means that during the Gamebird hunting season pukeko can be hunted if:
• A Fish & Game NZ< Gamebird licence is obtained.
• Pukeko are on the licence for the area hunted.
• Bag limits apply
• For DOC areas a Gamebird hunting permit is obtained. (NB. Most DOC
areas would not be available for shooting pukeko.

For controlling pukeko that are damaging crops etc: Pukeko are also classified as
‘Wildlife that may be Hunted or Killed subject to the Ministers Notification’, under the Third Schedule of the Wildlife act 1953. This means that pukeko can be controlled if:
• Approved by permit issued by Fish & Game NZ.
• Approval is subject to being able to justify the control on damage to crops etc
Fish & Game NZ website:

Can I fly into my hunting area?

The answer is maybe.

In general access into conservation areas by aircraft requires the specific authority of the Department.

• Local Conservation Management Strategies (CMS) identify where aircraft are permitted often to specific landing sites and if flying with a commercial operator they will have landing permit which authorises landing at these sites only.
• For landing outside designated sites specific permission is required from the local manager.
• To enhance/maintain visitor experience, aircraft use may be prohibited or controlled (eg. Designated number of flights per day) in some areas.