Special Feature: Outstanding fallow trophies at two locations
The glacial origins of ‘Central’ are obvious when you first view the enormous round-top mountain ranges draped in golden brown tussock grasses.
Breathtakingly beautiful alpine lakes, Wakatipu, Wanaka and Hawea, are encompassed by 2000 metre ranges like Hawkdun, St Bathans, Dunstan, Pisa, Old Man and Lammermoor.
This Big Sky Country with its tussock tops and crystal clear, dry air is made for red deer, which revel in the freedom of open spaces. These deer range far and wide over the tussock country dodging helicopter shooters, and some fine trophy animals are taken each year. The best hunting is in the lakes district and the Clutha and Taieri river catchments.
Fallow deer are well established in two herds, which regularly produce outstanding trophies. The Wakatipu herd occupies the area around the Dart and Rees rivers and also the Recreational Hunting Area in the Caples and Greenstone valleys. The other substantial herd is in the Blue Mountains above the Clutha River. These herds have survived through sheer cunning and the clever use of sparse cover. Unlike red deer, a disturbed fallow does not stop dead in their tracks in response to the hunter’s shout or whistle – they resolutely vanish out of sight.
Whitetail deer are also present in these ‘happy hunting grounds’ with a small population just surviving in the Dart/Rees delta area and on the slopes of Mt Earnslaw. Chamois thrive on the high peaks above the Dart and Rees rivers and along the Alps.
Wild pigs exist in low numbers inland from Dunedin and in the Lammerlaw Range. Goats are sparsely distributed with herds in the Old Woman Range and the Clutha gorges.
Mallard, grey, shoveler ducks and Paradise shelducks are common in the Taieri wetlands, hydro dams and the Clutha River catchment. Canada geese and black swans are also found in good numbers on the numerous Central Otago lakes. Pheasant are common with a defined hunting preserve at Bendigo, near Lake Dunstan. Chukar are plentiful in the Ida Valley and Hawkdun range and quail are common throughout the region.
Helicopter transport to backcountry hunting blocks and guided hunting for red deer, thar and chamois is available at Wanaka and a hunting park is based at Queenstown. Guided fair chase hunting for red deer, thar, chamois, wild pig, goat and game birds can be arranged at Ranfurly, Milton and Balclutha.