21 Mar 2023

Roar hunt guides 'absolutely bursting at the seams' with bookings

6:54 pm on 21 March 2023
stag wiht antlers head back calling

File photo. Photo: 123rf.com

Hunting guides left with no business during Covid-19 border closures have been inundated with bookings for this season.

The hunting season runs from March to May but the peak of the season, the roar - when stags are most vocal - goes from now through to April.

New Zealand Professional Hunting Guides Association president Simon Guild, who runs hunting tours at High Peak Station in Canterbury, said after a couple of years with no business bookings for trips have been flooding in.

"Most guides that I know and have talked to are absolutely bursting at the seams, which is a good problem to have when we've been really scrambling for for business survival, some are booked up right through until 2025.

"Speaking from personal experience our clients have been fantastic, extremely understanding about the Covid situation and they just rolled over their bookings so it's great to see everyone come back."

Most of the clients come from the US but there was good representation from Europe, Canada and Australia and a growing market within Asia.

"We have a great reputation for providing a top experience so that's why people come here, it's a credit to the industry that we're seeing strong growth.

"These tourist hunters are the highest value tourists per capita that we have coming to New Zealand, for example a middle of the range client would spend in excess of $20,000 USD a week and an upper end client could easily spend six figures."

They were great for the economy because they come here and spend about a week hunting then stay on with their families and see other parts of the country, he said.

It was gearing up to be a successful season as with fewer hunters in the last few years there were plenty of animals around, he said.

Hunters urged to stay up to date with rules

The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association said it was vital hunters made sure they were aware of changes made to the Arms Code last year.

Changes were made to rule numbers three and six of the seven basic firearms safety rules, chief executive Gwyn Thurlow said.

The changed apply to all hunters transporting firearms and ammo across country to reach their chosen hunting grounds, he said.

What are the key transport rules?

  • All firearms must be concealed from view from outside the vehicle.
  • Firearms must be made inoperable by removing the bolt or another vital part or by fitting a trigger lock or storing it in a locked case or carry bag.
  • Firearms must not be loaded with ammunition in the breach, barrel or chamber, or magazine.
  • Ammunition must be concealed from view from outside the vehicle.
  • Ammunition must be stored separately from all firearms and be in a locked glovebox or similar storage area where practicable (e.g. a cash box).
  • Food and toilet stops of up to 60 minutes are allowed if you have your vehicle nearby.

Thurlow said with the peak roar falling on Easter weekend it was important hunters were aware there could be more trampers out and about.

"With it being a public holiday, hunters need to take extra steps to ensure the wellbeing of your hunting party: wear blaze clothing, involve all members of your hunting party in decision-making, map out your hunting trips carefully, and be particularly careful to identify your target beyond all doubt."