Game bird hunting licences for the upcoming season go on sale today.

Hunters have been eagerly anticipating the new licences which allow them to hunt waterfowl and upland game birds from the first weekend in May to the last weekend in August.

The licences are available at sports stores or on-line through the Fish & Game website www.fishandgame.org.nz.

Fish & Game New Zealand's chief executive Bryce Johnson said harvesting game birds for the dinner table is part of a long and proud New Zealand tradition.

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"Hunting is still very much a part of our country's way of life - for generations, people have prided themselves on being able to put game on the table to feed their families and friends."

Mr Johnson said game meat is a healthy addition to anyone's diet.

"Game birds are the ultimate in free range food. They have grown up in the wild without chemical additives and provide lean, tasty meat."

Mr Johnson said revenue raised through licence sales helps protect the environment.

"Fish & Game is a statutory organisation and is required by Parliament to not only look after game birds, but also manage, maintain and enhance their habitats.

"We take that role seriously and work hard to make sure not only game but native birds too have a healthy environment in which to survive."

All hunting licences are required to have a game bird habitat stamp on them and the money raised from the sale of these stamps is used to enhance wetlands and other environments where birds live.

The stamps are also available for members of the general public to buy and Mr Johnson urged people to buy a stamp and do their bit to help the environment.

"Vital habitat like wetlands is under threat and that puts pressure on wildlife living there, including native birds and fish.

"The habitat stamps raise valuable funds to protect these areas - and the good thing is that you don't have to be a hunter to buy one," he said.

Fish & Game staff said prospects for the coming game bird season were looking good with the wetter than normal weather in many areas providing ample habitat for breeding and duckling rearing.

Based on field observations there should be good numbers of ducks around for opening day.

The game bird season opens nationwide on Saturday May 6.

The season closes on August 27 for upland game like pheasant and quail, while duck season closes earlier depending on individual regions.