Hunting tourism operator Richard Burdon is happy the borders have reopened, but says it's too late for the lucrative American market.
Burdon and his wife Sarah are third-generation owners of high country station Glen Dene on the shores of Lake Hawea in Central Otago.
Outside of farming, the Burdons also run a successful trophy hunting operation from Glen Dene, where overseas hunters can enjoy premium lodgings and backcountry hut experiences while they hunt.
Earlier this month Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that from April 13, vaccinated tourists from Australia will be able to enter the country without isolating.
And from May 2, vaccinated tourists from other visa-waiver countries, including the US, UK, Germany, Canada, Japan, Singapore and others, will be allowed entry.
That was good news for the Burdons but it meant only Australians would be able to hunt deer during the "roar", Burdon told The Country's Jamie Mackay.
The roar typically happens from the end of March and through April and is one of the main hunting seasons for the Americans keen to bag a trophy.
This year they would miss out for the third year due to Covid-19, but Burdon said he was happy to make do with those closer to home.
"We've got a good lineup of New Zealand hunters who are keen to come out and hunt with us and then we've got the Australians," he said.
"With the borders opening on the 12th of April, we've scheduled some Australian hunters and we had around 20 of those coming, so they're pretty excited that they've got first dibs during the roar."
There was a strong hunting heritage in Australia, which was also "pretty positive" but Burdon had to admit that it wasn't as lucrative as the US market.
"We can't quite get as much money out of the Australians as we can but they are contributing and love hunting."
He said his US clientele was unhappy with New Zealand's border controls during the pandemic.
"A lot of the Americans did feel a bit miffed in the fact that a country could lock its people out of the country and they really felt a wee bit insecure about booking trips to New Zealand knowing that they could get locked in or locked out.
"That was one of my toughest things I had to deal with."
"The hunting side of our business really contributes a lot to the sustainability of our agribusiness operation and I have been a bit lucky – we've put some land into some carbon credits and that's helped plug a few gaps."
Burdon had also learned a lot about his domestic market, which he said had been "good for us" but navigating the pandemic had still been challenging.
"We've been well supported by some Kiwi hunters but it's certainly been the toughest two years for me juggling and learning different stuff."
However, he'd been in the business long enough to have established good relationships with overseas clients.
Earlier this month, Burdon returned from eight weeks in the US where he'd been at trade shows.
He said the face to face contact was vital and had even risked missing out on an MIQ spot to go.
"We have a network of agents over there as well and it's really important to network with them because it's all about relationships and integrity.
"We play the long game in the hunting industry because basically it takes a two to three year relationship."
However, Burdon had managed to make it work.
Running a farming and tourism operation for the past two years had also been difficult.
"We've lost over $1 million in gross income each year."
Ultimately, Burdon remained positive about the future, despite the struggles of the past two years.
"We've got these Covid issues but I'm optimistic that everything's going to come right.
"We should be able to get on with life with the migrant workers being allowed back into the country and Covid hopefully behind us."