DANNY DE HEK Entrepreneur Decision Maker Connector Podcaster EducatorSpecial Feature: Excellent red and sika hunting in Kawekas

The sweeping curve of Hawke’s Bay from Napier to Mahia Peninsula fronts a deep hinterland of golden brown rolling hills and steep-sided mountain ranges.

Hawke’s Bay is a blessed land of fruitful bounty with sun-kissed vineyards and abundant fruit and produce. This plenty also extends to the mountainous interior where red and sika deer herds are well-established and wild pigs and goats roam largely undisturbed.

The southern Urewera, Ahimanawa and Kaweka ranges are perhaps the most productive deer hunting areas in the North Island. This continuous band of broken country is drained by a river system dominated by the Waiau, Mohaka, Waipunga and Ngaruroro rivers.

Red deer are common throughout the region and have established a stronghold in the Kawekas, which recently prompted severe control measures by DOC. Hunting prospects are still good for those prepared to tramp 2 to 3 hours into the remote valleys. The heavy scrub country in the Mohaka headwaters has one of the highest red deer densities in the country. The Napier-Taihape road penetrates the Kawekas, passing through Kuripapango, where there is good access to the Ngaruroro catchment. The Napier-Taupo road runs parallel with the Ahimanawas affording direct entry into this productive hunting area.

Japanese sika deer where introduced in the Kaimanawas in 1905 and now have spread as far as East Cape and the Ruahines. The Eastern Kawekas are highly valued by hunters as a Recreational Hunting Area. Sika are a real challenge to hunt because of their native cunning and elusiveness. They give a high-pitched whistle when alarmed and often keep a hunter under surveillance by circling round behind and following him.

Wild pigs are widespread in low to moderate numbers, inhabiting the manuka scrub and fern-covered slopes on the eastern periphery of the ranges. Goats are found in pockets atop high bluffs and gorges in the eastern forest fringes, and wild sheep live along isolated stretches of the Mohaka and Ngaruroro rivers.

Mallard, grey, hybrid ducks and paradise shelducks are plentiful on rivers, streams and lakes. Ring necked pheasants and California quail populate the river margins and pine plantations.

Guided hunting for red, sika and fallow deer, goats and waterfowl is available in Gisborne. Free range safaris for red and sika deer trophies are run on Ngamatea Station. Napier has guided quail and pheasant hunts with English pointer dogs.