A Deer-stalking expedition that went tragically wrong when one of two men fell into a river gorge and died was the subject of a prosecution in the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

Before Judge Michael Turner on a Wild Animal Control Act charge was Craig Alastair Harris (45), of Dunedin.

He admitted unlawfully hunting on a South Canterbury farm property a year ago.

The defendant and fellow hunter Murray Edge were legitimately hunting on a Limestone Valley Rd farm near Albury, inland from Timaru, on April 19 last year, Sergeant Kate Saxton told the court.


But after dark, the two men decided to cross the Tengawai River to a neighbouring farm. They did not have any authority from the owner to be on his property.

Harris shot a wild deer after Mr Edge used a spotlight to identify it. They gutted the animal and carried it further up the hill, still on the complainant's property. They saw two more deer and Harris fired two shots but missed.

After the second shot, the men saw a light further down the valley and became concerned about being caught.

They headed down the hill in the dark but became separated. Harris could not find Mr Edge, whose body was discovered in a steep gorge a month later, following a major search and rescue operation.

It appeared he died after accidentally falling into the gorge and over a steep waterfall while trying to get off the hill on April 19, Sgt Saxton said.

When police spoke to Harris, he admitted the facts. He said he knew he should not have been hunting on the complainant's property.

He yesterday admitted unlawfully hunting on the second farm and was remanded on bail for sentence next month. Judge Turner asked for restorative justice to be investigated for a meeting with the property owner.

Counsel Alastair Logan submitted such a meeting was not needed as the deer killed was a feral animal and was not owned by the farmer.