It would have been a glum week for many Rotorua duck hunters as last Saturday would have typically marked the start of the shooting season.

But an expert says the delay was a blessing in disguise.

May 1 was traditionally the opening day for the duck shooting season, but under the Government's level 3 restrictions, the sport was prohibited.

It would not be able to begin until level 2 came into effect.

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Eastern Fish and Game Council manager Andy Garrick says they are waiting with "bated breath" to hear when they may be able to start the season.

At this stage, the opening day was set to be either May 23 or June 6, announcement dependant.

Garrick says the pushback was actually "a good thing" for shooters because before the weekend's hard downpours, many of the region's ponds were empty.

As the wetlands fill back up, more ducks will be in the expected areas, he says.

He says low cloud and heavy rain would have made for good shooting conditions last Sunday, but Saturday, which was supposed to be opening day, was not too good.

"I know it's been very frustrating for some who are keen to get out there, but we have to look at the positives."

He says they are currently seeking approval to extend the shooting season for the mallard, which is the most popular breed of duck to hunt.

A fisherman out on one of the Rotorua lakes. Photo / Supplied
A fisherman out on one of the Rotorua lakes. Photo / Supplied

There are specific seasons for hunting game birds as it has to be sustainable for their annual harvest, he says.


All hunters would have to comply with the restrictions of alert level 2 while hunting and travelling to their hunting spots.

This included hunting within their bubble, keeping it local, no non-regional hunting, social distancing and no overnight trips.

All hunters would start on the same day, including private land duck shooters.

Fish and Game New Zealand would be undertaking compliance work throughout the game bird season and before to ensure new season dates were being adhered to.

Meanwhile, many shore-line and kayak fishers are revelling in their newfound level 3 freedom.

Garrick says he has heard of many getting their rods out to fish and Rotorua is ideal for a lakeside cast.


"After being bottled up for so long, people are definitely taking advantage of it."

As winter approaches, anglers are making the most of some well-conditioned spawning trout around the shoreline and at stream mouths, he says.

Lakes Tarawera, Okataina and Rotoiti are the places to be for the biggest trout, while the Ngongotahā, Waiteti and Utuhina streams are also worth visiting.