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Our Hunting FAQs cover the answers to our most Frequently Asked Questions about game bird hunting in New Zealand. The questions are split into useful topics so it should be easy to find what you are looking for.
If you can’t find what you are looking for or for more information on any topic, please contact your local Fish & Game office or the New Zealand Council on (04) 499 4767 or by email.



If you have a banded bird in your bag, please report it by writing, emailing or ringing the National Banding Office (details here) or complete an online band reporting form available through the link below.
Bands allow researchers and conservation managers to study the life cycle (births, deaths, age of breeding), habits such as bird behaviour, breeding activities and what they eat, and also the movements of birds. Each metal band carries its own unique prefix and number.
The Online Form for Game Birds can be found here. Use this form if you have a band from a game bird. Game birds include: mallard, grey and paradise ducks, black swan, pukeko, pheasant, and quail.



The 2012 Wildlife (Australasian Harrier) Notice still allows landowners to take necessary steps to protect their domestic animals and/or domestic birds from hawks, however, there are some important changes – the new law means you can take the necessary measures to protect your domestic birds. Read the full article here.



The fight to have the grey teal given game bird status continues, though after 40 years are we any closer to a resolution? Read the full article here.



Game birds ingest grit to aid the physical breakdown and digestion of the food they eat. If lead shot is available, they may ingest that too. Read the full facts sheet here.



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In which areas will non-toxic shot be required?

Non toxic shot will be required within 200m of water bodies over 3 metres wide of all PUBLIC AREAS (such as DoC land and lakes, Fish & Game areas, harbours) and all PRIVATE LAND (all wetlands and ponds).

All hunters are required to use non-toxic shot – this includes landowners/occupiers who can also hunt on their own land.

Can I go hunting for pheasant with lead?

Yes. The rules allow for upland game hunting (pheasant, quail) with lead. The reason behind this is that waterfowl are susceptible to lead poisoning through uptake of lead pellets – with lead normally being concentrated in or around shallow ponds, wetlands, and on the edges of deeper ponds. For upland game, the spread of lead shot is much more diffuse and spent pellets are distributed over a wider area – making them less likely to be picked up by birds. Quail also select for a smaller grit size than most pellets used – therefore are less likely to be affected.

If I am going duck hunting first and then trying for some pheasants in the same area, can I use steel for ducks and then lead for pheasants?

No. The rules will relate to the possession of lead for waterfowl hunting – so you can’t chop and change in the field. if you are going duck hunting it’s non-toxic shot eg steel shot, if you are hunting pheasants you can use either steel (or other non-toxic shot) or lead shot, if you are hunting both ducks and pheasant then its non-toxic only. However, you cannot simply say you were hunting pheasant. It will be up to you to show the ranger that you are indeed hunting pheasant – no duck callers, no ducks hanging off your belt, etc and if you’re sitting in the maimai with full camo gear… “I’m waiting for pheasants to fly past” won’t wash either.

Can I still go paddock shooting with lead shot for ducks and geese?

There is a provision to allow for paddock (including maize stubble) shooting with lead shot – if you are more than 200m from a waterbody over 3 metres wide you can still use lead shot for hunting. The reasoning behind this is to allow opportunity for hunting species in high numbers that could be adversely affecting crops. In allowing this exception it does open up difficulties in specifying regulations but the rule will be – you can use lead shot if you’re more than 200m from water greater than 3 metres wide (ie in most practical situations if can’t jump across the water in your red band gumboots). Examples: Must be more than 200m away to be able to use lead from: ~ any lakes, ponds, streams or water bodies wider than three metres; including ~ Drains wider than 3m ~ Shallow lagoon less than (for example) 10cm deep, but wider than 3 metres. Can use lead within 200m of drain: ~ less than 2m wide . ~ a temporary puddle in paddock under 3 metres wide

Can I still use lead with my 20 gauge?

Yes, the ban applies to 10 and 12 gauge. The exemption remains for smaller gauge guns. For those people who wish to continue hunting using muzzle loading guns, regional Fish and Game Councils will consider applications for an exemption to allow the continued use of lead shot for those guns on a case by case and gun specific basis.

I am still unsure whether I can use lead when hunting gamebirds. What are the key questions to ask myself:

  1. Am I hunting with a 10 or 12 gauge?
  2. Am I hunting waterfowl?
  3. Am I within 200 metres of a waterbody? (see “200 metre rule test” for explanation of “waterbody”)

If the answer is YES to ALL three questions then you should not have any lead shot with you.