Stewart Island introduces hunter huts

Stewart Island is one of New Zealand’s most remote locations, with around 30,000 people making the journey south each year.

Hunters make up 10 percent of those visitors, helping keep the deer population under control as well as eradicating pests.

That effort has been made easier, thanks to a project of building huts on the island. Volunteers are building what will be the 16th hunters' hut on the island.

It is a project that began over a decade ago, following Department of Conservation's concerns over trees cut down and rubbish left behind by hunters building their own shelters.

"When they [hunters] left they would often leave things like tarpaulins and plastic behind, which just became an eyesore and nobody else wanted to use," says Rakiura Hunter Camp Trust chairman John Delury.

The Murray River Hut is the first one built on the northern township side.

It is a big logistical exercise. The partly assembled materials are shipped from Invercargill to Bluff, and then taken by helicopter to the hut site.

The shelters mean that 3000 annual deer stalkers can get in an extra day of hunting.

"It means you can come down to the island, [and] you've got somewhere nice and quiet. You don't have to put up tents; you can just put your gear in the hut, store it away and head away hunting," says deer hunter Hackey Sims.

Along with managing the population of white-tailed deer, hunters also help control island pests like possums and feral cats.

"We provide a cat cage, which can be used for possums at each hut. And we also spend over $1000 on rat bait for poisoning possums around the campsites," says Mr Delury.

The huts themselves are no-frills, a basic building with an onsite water tank and wilderness toilet.

But it is comfortable enough to keep hunters coming back and playing their role on Stewart Island.

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source: newshub archive