Red deer are the main game animal by sheer weight of numbers and their range extends from the Kaimai Range in the Bay of Plenty to Stewart Island. Average trophy heads are 8 to 10 points but splendid trophies of 12 to 16 points (with a 1 metre spread) are obtainable.
Fallow deer are second in terms of numbers, and are spread in pockets over the North and South islands. They are small deer with a wide colour variation and carry palmated antlers. Being highly gregarious they stay in small herds and often return to favoured browsing grounds, making them relatively easy to hunt.
Sika deer are supreme in the survival stakes, extending their range well north and south of the Kaimanawa Ranges despite intense hunting pressure. They are very alert and fast and difficult to stalk. Mature stags grow 6 to 8 points and trophy head quality is excellent. This is the world’s largest herd of sika available to hunters.
Whitetail deer are greatly prized as trophies because they are so cunning, fleet-footed and clever at concealment. They have spread over the remote and rugged Stewart Island terrain and taking a good trophy here is a worthy challenge.
Sambar deer with their restricted range in the Rotorua area and Manawatu coast, are perhaps the most difficult trophy to obtain. They are relatively scarce and the survivors are extremely wise and alert, hiding in clumps of flax in swampy terrain.
Rusa deer are also highly sought after trophies because of their scarcity in limited herds in the Kaingaroa Forest and the Galatea slopes of the Ureweras. They are closely related to the Sambar deer and largely nocturnal. Both species require huge patience and perseverance to hunt.
Chamois are superbly agile and elusive animals to hunt and are highly prized as trophies. They have extended their range throughout the entire Southern Alps chain, preferring the high alpine pastures, which constitute a physical challenge to the hunter.
Thar occupy a high altitude habitat in the central portion of the Southern Alps, particularly in the Mt Cook region, and are considered a first class trophy. Government culling operations have been employed to keep numbers in check.
Wapiti (elk) have spread over a vast inhospitable mountain range between Lake Te Anau and the Fiordland coast. Interbreeding with the more numerous red deer has virtually eliminated purebred stock but mature crossbred stags with 14 points (and a 1.2 metre spread) make greatly prized trophies.
Moose were liberated at Dusky Sound early last century and a small number were shot in the years up to 1952. They have never been sighted since, but a survey in 1972 indicated a struggling population. In recent years browse lines up to 3 metres high have been observed, so Moose are the ultimate trophy if you can discover them.
Wild pigs are widespread in the North and South Island’s. They are usually hunted with dogs in dense scrub and offer fine trophies of curved, razor-sharp tusks.