Over 500 vehicles gather for tahr-culling protest against Department of Conservation

More than 500 cars turned up at Aoraki Mt Cook on Sunday to protest the tahr culling operation started this week by the Department of Conservation (DoC).

The Mt Cook Tahr Jam was arranged by the outdoor and hunting community angry at the Government's planned cuts to the stock.

Hundreds of cars drove 30 kilometres on the open road into Mt Cook, the anger palpable at DoC's decision to cut the Himalayan tahr population in the area.

"We've really struggled to get our voice heard," says Willie Duley, from the Tahr Foundation.

"We've gone to court, we've wasted a lot of resource, they're in there shooting bulls at the moment."

"We have tens of thousands of people that rely on tahr for their wellbeing, their mental wellbeing, their livelihoods and it's getting taken away in a dictatorial sense by somebody that shouldn't be able to do that," adds protest organiser Tom Taylor.

In -5C and with dead tahrs along for the ride, hundreds of cars drove in convoy in a long and slow line to send a message.

"We want a big visual statement that we can show the country that we're unhappy that the Government is just not listening to us," protestor Calvin Williams says.

DoC has started over 60 hours of aerial control in the national parks to cull thousands of tahr. It insists the work is critical to protect native plants and wildlife.

But hunters say while they agree the animals need to be controlled, there has been zero consultation.

"They won't even get around the table with us, they're railroading through a plan," Duley says.

"Nobody wants overpopulation, but with complete lack of consultation on our part, they've just gone out to wipe out and eradicate," Taylor says.

But DoC says it is not aiming to eradicate, just to bring the population back to a sustainable level to protect the area.

It says it's crucial the work is done now before a new generation of tahr is born in a few months time, putting further pressure on the environment.

But the people in these four-wheel drives beg to differ.

"Save our tahr!" one tells Newshub.