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Hunting and fishing at Alert Level 2

4 min read
COVID-19 Alert Level 2

New Zealand moved to COVID-19 Alert Level 2 at 11:59pm on Wednesday, 13 May 2020, which sees rules relaxed towards activities such as hunting, fishing, and boating.

Here is a quick snapshot of what Level 2 means to hunters and anglers.

Duck hunting season 2020

It’s game on from 23 May!

After the roar season was cancelled, hunters have been eagerly looking forward to this year’s duck hunting season. And while it was delayed at Alert Level 3, hunters can now look forward to 23 May, which will mark the start of game bird season 2020.

Hunting prior to this date is not permitted.

This also means Department of Conservation (DOC) district offices can issue bird hunting permits for duck hunting on public conservation land and water, hunters can travel to their maimai to make preparations, and the use of boats is allowed among other things. Read more here.

Public conservation land

Hunters and anglers will be able to access public conservation land but remember that DOC huts and camping grounds have some restrictions.

Hunters need to have the appropriate hunting permit or hold the required concession and abide by Ministry of Health guidelines.

Tahr rut ballots

The tahr rut, which runs from late April to late June and is a popular time for hunting in the South Island, was impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, however, the remaining 2020 tahr ballot periods will recommence from 16 May.

If hunters ballots were affected by Level 4 and Level 3 restrictions, they will have the option to move their ballot to the same period in 2021.

Restricted hunting areas

Prior to moving to COVID-19 Alert Level 4, some hunters will have had a permit or booking to hunt in a restricted hunting area. The bookings did not go ahead due to COVID restrictions, and permits will not be rolled over and hunters will need to contact their local DOC district office to apply for a new restricted hunting permit/booking.

Inter-regional domestic travel

Inter-regional domestic travel will be allowed at Level 2, which means hunters and anglers can travel nationally and stay overnight while following public health measures.

“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.”

Fishing at Level 2

Fishing is almost back to normal, with anglers allowed to fish from boats again.

However, social distancing must be maintained from people you do not know and a record must be kept of everyone you come in contact with.

Fisheries rules and restrictions are still in place. People can find out about the fishing rules for their region on MPI’s website. 

To find out more about license refunds and how to buy a license online, check out Fish & Game’s website.

Fishing seasons have not been extended. Find out more about regulations here.

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 after weeks of storing your boats, it is important to prep your vessel before you head out. Coastguard has put together some handy tips.

Other guidelines

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.

Some guidelines to remember:

  • Maintain social distancing from people you do not know and keep a record of everyone you come in to contact with
  • Social group need to be restricted to a maximum of 10 people; the smaller the group, the better
  • Carry out activities such as fishing, hunting, and boating safely in areas that you know and do not pose obvious risk
  • Avoid sharing equipment with others
  • Be safe in all your interactions as much as possible
  • And finally, if you are sick or have any symptoms, even if it as minor as sniffles or a runny nose, stay home

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