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Alert Level 2: what it means for hunters and anglers

3 min read
COVID-19 Alert Level 2 hunting fishing rules

When the country moves to Level 2, hunting on public conservation land and water-based activities will be allowed

On 7 May, prime minister Jacinda Ardern revealed details for what New Zealand would look like at Alert Level 2. We are still at Alert Level 3 at least until Monday, 11 May when the cabinet will meet to decide the further course of action. So here’s hoping we move to Level 2, which sees rules relaxed towards anglers and hunters. While more in-depth details will be announced in the coming days, this is what we know as of 8 May 2020.

Public conservation land open for hunting

Hunters will be able to access public conservation land at Level 2.

“The fact that public conservation land is open again is great news for the tens of thousands of Kiwi hunters that rely on public land to go hunting,” said New Zealand Deerstalkers Association president Trevor Chappell.

“Most Kiwi hunters don’t have access to hunting on private land so have had to bide their time during the peak of the hunting year.”

At Level 3, hunting is permitted but only on private lands and with prior permission from the landowner.

Inter-regional domestic travel

Inter-regional domestic travel will be allowed at Level 2.

“For the many hunters that live in our major centres, this means they can travel to their favourite locations and target tahr, red stags, sika and the other species that provide such fantastic late-autumn and winter hunting,” said Game Animal Council general manager Tim Gale.

Welcoming the changes, NZ Professional Hunting Guides Association president James Cagney said, “The return of domestic travel and the opening of conservation land is really important to hunting guides, game estates and others within the commercial hunting sector.

“Of course, the domestic market can never replace our international clientele but the lifting of restrictions does give the opportunity for some Kiwi hunting businesses to get back up and running.”

Game bird season 2020

On 23 April, the government announced that this year’s game bird season will be postponed to start on the second weekend after the date that is decided for when New Zealand moves to Alert Level 2.

An example of how this would work is:

  • Level 2 introduced between 11 and 15 May – Opening Day 23 May
  • Level 2 introduced between 16 and 29 May – Opening Day 6 June

“All New Zealanders will still have an opportunity to hunt ducks, at the same time, once we return to Alert Level 2,” conservation minister Eugenie Sage said then.

She added that while this was “disappointing, for many duck hunters, the social interaction around hunting is an important ​​part of the activity, especially at opening weekend. The risks associated with groups of people coming together is too high.”

Online hunting permits

It was still unsure if online hunting permit would be back at Level 2.

“From what we understand the Department of Conservation are planning to reinstate the online hunting permit system before level 2 and we are still working with them on a fair resolution to the issue of ballots,” say Chappell and Gale.

“We also expect to receive guidance on the status of facilities such as backcountry huts.”

Boats allowed back on water

After weeks of boats being stuck ashore, anglers and boaties will be allowed to hit the waters again at Level 2. All recreational boating and water-based activities will resume.

“This includes the use of dinghies, keelboats, powerboats, and pleasure craft as long as the guidelines around social distancing, hygiene and contact tracing are met,” said David Abercrombie, Yachting New Zealand chief executive.

But remember…

While it is a relief to hear about the relaxation of rules in favour of hunters, anglers, and boaties, it is important to remember that Kiwis still need to work together to ensure that COVID-19 does not spread and that the gains achieved over the past weeks are not lost.

While Alert Level 2 does see many prior prohibited activities reinstated, it does not mean that life is back to ‘normal’.

Kiwis will continue to main physical distancing and take extra care when interacting with people you do not know, as it would be difficult to do contact tracing.

For more information on different alert levels, visit

As more details come out, the F&O team will inform readers on our website and Facebook page.

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