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COVID-19 DOC Hunting Permit Update

By Steve Taylor, Department of Conservation

It was great to hear yesterday that we are moving to Level 2 at 11.59pm on Wednesday, which means hunting will be allowed on public conservation land.


Thank you for your patience and support over the last few months. We know it hasn’t been easy. Hopefully the following information will help you plan your first hunting trip once we have returned to Alert Level 2.



Hunting on public conservation land will be allowed once New Zealand has returned to COVID-19 Alert Level 2. Hunters will need the appropriate hunting permit or hold the required concession and abide by Ministry of Health guidelines.


Recreational hunters can apply online for a hunting permit from 5:00pm Tuesday 12 May. Permits will be valid once New Zealand returns to Alert Level 2 at 11.59am Wednesday evening. Hunters should first check their existing permit as it may still be current.


Fish & Game NZ have announced the game bird season will open on Saturday 23 May. At Alert Level 2, DOC district offices can issue small game and game bird hunting permits for duck hunting on public conservation land and waters. Staff will be responding to a variety of requests once they return to the office so thank you for your patience during this time. 



The Himalayan tahr rut runs from late April to late June and is a popular time for hunting in the South Island. Tahr ballots allow a select number of hunters authorised aircraft landings in the Hooker-Landsborough and Adams Wilderness areas. 


Several Himalayan tahr rut ballot periods have been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, however the remaining 2020 tahr ballot periods will recommence from Saturday 16 May 2020.We will contact ballot holders to check whether they would still like this opportunity to hunt tahr.


“Recreational hunters can apply online for a hunting permit from 5:00pm Tuesday 12 May. Permits will be valid once New Zealand returns to Alert Level 2 at 11.59am Wednesday evening. Hunters should first check their existing permit as it may still be current.


If a ballot holder is unable to take up a ballot and notifies DOC within seven days of being contacted, their ballot will be rolled over to next year. If the hunter does not respond to DOC’s email, DOC will assume the ballot holder has accepted the hunting block for 2020 and it won’t be rolled over to 2021.


Any remaining hunting blocks in the 2020 ballot that are no longer required by hunters will become available to other parties on a first in first served basis through the DOC website. If hunters ballots were affected by COVID Level 3 and 4 restrictions, they will have an opportunity to move their ballot to the same time period in 2021. 


Note: Travel and helicopter transport for hunting ballots are still subject to any COVID-19 restrictions affecting hunting parties or Westland.


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Some hunting blocks assigned to hunters as part of the 2020 deer roar ballots did not go ahead during Alert Level 3 and 4.


Ballot holders can choose to have their allocated block transferred to the same period next year. Where ballot holders did have the opportunity to take up their blocks, these will be either re-drawn in a limited ballot, or made available to book for 2021.


We will contact ballot holders whose hunting trips were partially affected by COVID-19 in due course. DOC staff are currently focused on ensuring any hunting ballots or bookings planned for the next few months go ahead. Once this process is complete we will contact affected ballot holders regarding next year’s ballots and hunting blocks. 


The following roar ballots were affected by COVID-19. If hunters were unable to hunt on the hunting block, their ballot will be rolled over to 2021. 


Northern South Island:

  • Molesworth roar ballot


West Coast:

  • Haast roar ballot


Southern South Island:

  • Wanaka roar ballot
  • Greenstone/Caples roar ballot
  • Coastal Otago ballots: Waianakarua, Glencoe, Mill Creek, Waipori Falls
  • Murihiku ballots: Waikaia, Leithen Bush, MacLennan, Tautuku, Blue Mountains
  • Rakiura/Stewart Island booking system



Nationally there are approximately 110 restricted hunting areas that are available to the public and managed by the Department. These areas sit outside the online open area hunting blocks and the popular roar and rut ballots.


Prior to moving to COVID-19 Alert Level 4, some hunters will have had a permit or booking to hunt in a restricted hunting area. Due to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 and 4, these bookings did not go ahead.


Permits will not be rolled over once we return to Level 2 and hunters will need to contact their local DOC district office to apply for a new restricted hunting permit/booking.


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DOC will honour any remaining restricted hunting permits or bookings (booked prior to Alert Level 4) once New Zealand has returned to Alert Level 2.


Restricted hunting permits will be subject to any COVID-19 restrictions that may apply, as well as local restrictions. 





The Government’s COVID 19 website has more information about what other recreational activities are allowed under Alert Level 2.


Thank you again for your patience and support.


Enjoy the hunt.


Ngā mihi nui.


Steve Taylor

Director Heritage and Visitors 

Department of Conservation


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