With New Zealand’s guided hunting industry severely impacted by COVID-19, NZ Game Animal Council, Safari Club International New Zealand (SCI NZ), and New Zealand Professional Hunting Guides Association (NZPHGA) is appealing for support from domestic hunters looking for guided hunting experiences.
Worth more than $50 million a year to the New Zealand economy, guided hunting provided international visitors with Kiwi hunting experiences on both private and public land and has also employed many in provincial regions, said Game Animal Council general manager Tim Gale, adding that “it really has been a New Zealand tourism success story”.
But with COVID-19 restrictions in place, international tourism has been halted.
“The reality is with COVID-19 having decimated the international tourist market hunting guides, game estates and other commercial operators are facing a very uncertain time and many may be forced to consider their future in the industry,” said SCI NZ president Mike Knowles.
“With New Zealand leading the world in combatting COVID-19, the recovery period presents a unique opportunity for New Zealand hunters to get out there and support local New Zealand businesses while having some fantastic hunting experiences.
“Our members would love to take Kiwi hunters on guided hunts, where they can go after the trophy of a lifetime or put high-quality free-range meat in the freezer.”
He added that Kiwis can learn new hunting skills “from some of the very best hunters in New Zealand.”
Many hunting operators are reconfiguring their offerings to cater to the different skills, experience, and budgets of domestic hunters.
NZPHGA president James Cagney says that the travel and logistics of going hunting can be difficult and typically involve a significant investment in both money and time.
“With many hunters having less time on their hands due to work commitments post-COVID-19, the benefit of going on a guided hunt is that they can maximise the time they have with the best possible opportunity for success.
“This applies to both managed herds on private land as well as using local guides to hunt for high-quality animals on public conservation land.”
Gale added that while Kiwi hunters are rightfully proud of their “get-out-there and do-it-yourself” attitude, there will be many who have often thought they would like to do a trip with a guide or on a game estate. “Well, there will never be a better time, and what better justification is there than to help support Kiwi businesses struggling in the aftermath of COVID-19.”