The Government will allow people to hunt on private property under alert level 3 but has placed a blanket ban on hunting on public or conservation land.
But there are a number of restrictions for those who choose to hunt on private land – hunters will not be allowed to go on overnight trips or use quad bikes or helicopters.
Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson, along with Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage made the announcement this morning.
All hunting was banned under alert level 4, but the Government has made a number of exceptions under level 3.
"We know that hunting is an important part of life for many New Zealanders, and in some cases a critical source of food," Robertson said.
He said New Zealand needs to minimise the risk of losing the progress made while in level 4.
"We have to strike a balance, and that's why these rules are designed to allow hunting in a limited way," Robertson said.
Cabinet yesterday agreed hunting on private land will be allowed under alert level 3, so long as hunters stay within their region and stick to their bubble.
Hunting is only permitted on foot and overnight trips are not allowed.
The use of quad bikes, off-road bikes, helicopters and other motorised vehicles is prohibited, Minister decided.
But hunting on public or conservation land would not be allowed until New Zealand returns to alert level 2.
"This helps with consistency across walking and mountain biking where people must stay local, rather than travelling to back country conservation land," Sage said.
She also revealed that the start of the duck hunting season, on Saturday, May 2, has been postponed by two weeks.
Sage said the risks associated with groups of people coming together were still too high.
"All New Zealanders will still have an opportunity to hunt ducks, at the same time, once we return to Alert Level 2.
"We're still encouraging New Zealanders to spend time in nature where possible if it's local, but this is not the time to take up hunting as a new hobby or explore the back country and go on an overnight tramp."
How far can I travel to go hunting on private land?
You should drive as short a distance as you can. You must stay within your region.
Does private land include Māori land?
Yes – the same rules apply.
Have the deer roar and tahr rut ballots/hunting blocks been affected by Covid-19?
The Department of Conservation (DoC) runs an annual ballot system for hunters wishing to hunt during the deer roar and tahr rut period. The ballot ensures hunters have access to an assigned hunting block.
Hunting blocks assigned to hunters as part of the 2020 deer roar are cancelled.
The tahr rut begins in late April 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. As the tahr rut takes place over winter, the 2020 tahr ballots are currently under review. We will contact ballot holders with more information in due course.
At alert level 3, people must not head into the backcountry/remote areas, for their safety and the safety of others. DoC huts are also not available for use.
Can I still get a hunting permit?
In order to hunt animals on public conservation land, hunters need a DoC hunting permit. DoC has temporarily disabled the function on its website which allows hunters to apply for permits. This will be reassessed at alert level 2.