Five lessons from New Zealand
Approx. 3 min read
When I have spoken to my Kiwi girlfriend about hunting in New Zealand, the responses have always been 'It's different' or 'you'll be surprised'. Now, after having hunted in two popular places in the Southern Alps - Arthur's pass and Lewis pass - I have learned a few lessons that I wasn't prepared for, although I am used to hunting the mountains of Norway.
Check out the blog post on up- and downhill shooting - a valuable skill in New Zealand
If you haven't read my previous posts on hunting in New Zealand, you can read how you would prepare for it here, and some tips from professional guide Cameron Young here. More photos on the trip will follow (you can check out some on Instagram already), but here are my immediate advice I wish someone told me before going:
Pack light, and tight. Packing light was always on my radar, but to make things easier for you when you are going up the steep hillsides, bush-bashing your way to the top you have to pack tight. The more stuff you have on the outside of your pack (sleeping bag, tent, rifle - you name it), the more likely you are to get stuck in branches and slow your pace. Make sure your bag is big enough to hold your gear (even your rifle, if you can break it down) and that you are comfortable with it for many hours on the hills.
Repellent. Do you know what a sandfly is? If you don't, you'll get to know them really well when you go to New Zealand. They will chew you up and make every inch of your body itch, unless you bring repellent. Although this add extra weight to your ultralight pack, it is almost as essential as your binoculars if you want to be able to enjoy your time hunting.
Hiking pole. Initially I wasn't going to bring a hiking pole, but I was convinced to bring one by Rachel. Looking back, I don't understand what I was thinking. It will help you in almost every aspect of mountain hunting; river crossings, balance going uphill, binocular support, shooting stick, and in some cases as a tent pole. The list goes on, so make sure you bring it, or buy it there. As with point no. 1, make sure its light, so it doesn't add too much to the total weight, but also sturdy enough that it will carry your weight when you have filled your pack with meat on the way out.
Changing conditions. Be prepared for anything. My trip to New Zealand started with a cyclone, and a few weeks later, ended with another one. In between this I had beautiful sunny days, but equally cold nights and wind. Lots of wind. The point of this is prepare for anything, and pack accordingly. Make sure you have good equipment so you can stay dry, and camp overnight if you need to, and always (I mean always) carry an emergency beacon in case things go wrong.
Buy local and respect the land. New Zealand is a country which is very accommodating for the outdoors enthusiast, and if you hunt on public land, you can take part in this amazing experience for free. No questions asked. As such, it is the responsibility of the visitor to have the courtesy to contribute something back to such a welcoming nation by buying your food and supplies locally. You can even buy your dehydrated meals in the supermarket, which is telling to how important the outdoors are to Kiwis. In addition to this, leave anywhere you camp as you want it to be found, clean your rubbish, and if you are staying in a hut (of which there are around 1000 of them) pay your hut fees.
Also, be aware that nothing comes easy in New Zealand, but the hard work is so rewarding. If you decide to make the hunting trip of a lifetime you'll be welcomed by friendly locals, amazing scenery, and some of the best hunting there is.
Have you ever hunted in New Zealand? If so, I would like to hear your thoughts on it in the comment section below!