DANNY DE HEK Entrepreneur Decision Maker Connector Podcaster EducatorSpecial Feature: Trophy class red deer in the Raukumaras

Follow the Pacific Coast Highway beyond the Bay of Plenty and you pass under the precipitous slopes of the Raukumara Range, which conceals hidden valleys where heavy antlered red stags roam.

The Raukumaras form the last stage of a continuous chain of mountains through the North Island beginning with the Rimutakas near Wellington. To penetrate this incredibly steep and tortuous wilderness area the hunter also needs to be an adventurer. Red deer are the main quarry here and they are large beasts. The deer are still colonising the range after spreading from the Ureweras and as they extend their territory they find an abundant food supply.

The main track system runs from Takaputahi in the west across the Motu River and through a network of four huts to Mt Hikurangi and on to Ruatoria near the east coast. Mt Hikurangi has the distinction of being the first place in New Zealand to see the sun each morning. The red deer range includes the Ruatoria and Tokomaru forests, the Huiarau Range and the Ureweras north of Lake Waikaremoana. Sika deer are continuing to spread into this territory from the Kaweka Range.

Wild pigs are scattered throughout the Ureweras and inhabit the Raukumaras in moderate numbers, particularly the rough scrub-covered fringes of the forest park. Goats are present in low to moderate numbers along the eastern borders of the main range and in isolated pockets down the coast.

Mallard, grey and shoveler ducks are fairly widespread in this region with paradise shelducks quite common in lower altitude areas on the fringes of native bush country. Some good pheasant and quail hunting is found in eastern forestry areas.

Guided hunting for trophy class red deer in the Raukumaras and Ureweras is available at Ruatahuna and fair chase hunting in remote Raukumara forest can be arranged at Motu and Gisborne. Safari hunts for fallow bucks, goats and waterfowl are also offered at Gisborne. Guided red deer stalking, wild pig, goat and other small game shooting can be organised at Lake Waikaremoana.