The new World of Deer Museum near Wanaka has got a lot of good points.

Retired red deer stud breeder Clive Jermy and two business partners, Harry Yu and Donald Greig, established the museum to celebrate red deer and the species' importance to the New Zealand economy.

Although an official opening is planned for later this month, the museum, based in the National Transport and Toy Museum, next to Wanaka Airport, has been open for a week and has already hosted visitors keen to see the exhibits.

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Mr Jermy said his extensive and growing collection of antlers was built up under the Stanfield umbrella during his career in Cambridge, Palmerston and Darfield.

He imported genetics from Woburn Abbey Deer Park and Warnham Park, England, and many of the progeny have produced world record antlers, which are also on display at the museum.

''It is a collection of exceptional antlers,'' Mr Jermy said.

''It is quite unique and better than the great collections in Europe.

''The collections in Europe have taken centuries to collect and we eclipse all of those.''

His stag, Norton II's antlers earned a Safari Club International world record of a 785 ⅜ inches.

''The length, thickness, number of points, length of points, inside span are all measured and those measurements are added together,'' he said.

''That is not to be confused with the number of points.''

There are also several collections, which feature antlers from individual animals, as they grow from their first year to year nine, so people can see the stag evolving and growing.

In addition to the antler collection, there are 44 information panels and displays about the story of the deer in New Zealand, including what antlers are and how they grow.

''We tell the New Zealand story about how they were liberated and introduced, what species we have and what happens to them in the wild.

''It is about the evolution of deer in New Zealand: the population; culling, hunting, commercialisation and deer farming, as well as venison and velvet and the safari industry.

''We have a white moose antler from North America, which has been carved by a Chinese master craftsman and imported for the museum,'' he said.

In addition there is a retail centre as well as photographs and other memorabilia.

He said he was ''over the moon'' with the visitors who have already been through the museum.

''They were thrilled with what they have seen,'' he said.

Southern Rural Life