Coronavirus: Hunters pleased with rules for alert level 2

The hunting sector has welcomed guidelines released by the Prime Minister for COVID-19 alert level 2.

Jacinda Ardern announced the guidelines ahead of Cabinet's decision next week about when New Zealand would move out of level 3.

In a joint statement, the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association, Game Animal Council and New Zealand Professional Hunting Guides Association said they were pleased that the rules would allow hunters to access public conservation land and travel to their favourite hunting spots.

"The fact that public conservation land is open again is great news for the tens of thousands of Kiwi hunters that rely on public land to go hunting," said New Zealand Deerstalkers Association president Trevor Chappell. 

"Most Kiwi hunters don't have access to hunting on private land so have had to bide their time during the peak of the hunting year."

Game Animal Council general manager Tim Gale said the sector was also pleased that inter-regional domestic travel would be allowed.

 "For the many hunters that live in our major centres, this means they can travel to their favourite locations and target tahr, red stags, sika and the other species that provide such fantastic late-autumn and winter hunting," said Gale.

Access to public conservation land when the country moves to alert level 2 is great news, says hunting groups.
Access to public conservation land when the country moves to alert level 2 is great news, says hunting groups. Photo credit: Getty

The return of domestic travel and the opening of conservation land was also really important to hunting guides, game estates and others within the commercial hunting sector, said NZ Professional Hunting Guides Association president James Cagney. 

"Of course, the domestic market can never replace our international clientele but the lifting of restrictions does give the opportunity for some Kiwi hunting businesses to get back up and running."

"From what we understand the Department of Conservation is planning to reinstate the online hunting permit system before level 2 and we are still working with them on a fair resolution to the issue of ballots," said Chappell and Gale. 

"We also expect to receive guidance on the status of facilities such as backcountry huts."

Under the current level 3 rules, hunters are able to hunt on private land with special restrictions, but not on public conservation land.

The start of the duck hunting season was postponed from Saturday, May 2 and would start on the second weekend after the date that is decided for when New Zealand moves to alert level 2.