Date set for start of duck hunting season

The start of the season was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The start of the season was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Photo credit: Getty

A date of May 23 has been set for the start of this year's game bird hunting season.

The confirmation comes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday the country will move to alert level 2 on Thursday.

The season was supposed to begin on May 2 but was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Although hunting was allowed under level 3 on private land and with the landowner's permission, under level 2 hunters will be able to access public conservation land and travel to non-local hunting grounds.

The May 23 date was chosen so hunters have time to properly equip themselves and travel to hunting grounds, Fish & Game New Zealand said.

"The good news is hunters can travel inter-regionally and will be able stay overnight at their hunting spots with friends and family under Level 2. While this offers the freedom duck hunters had hoped for, there are still considerations that need to be adhered to as outlined in the Government’s level 2 guidelines for the safety of all involved," Fish & Game said in a statement.

"Hunters are able to travel, use their boats, and access public land under alert level 2 and this will mean communities that have relied on the game bird season for income and food supply will still have a season."

The shift to level 2 also means other sports such as skiing and contact sports will be allowed to take place, providing good contact registers are maintained. 

Public swimming pools and gyms will be able to reopen with restrictions and boating and motorised watersports will also be allowed.