The Department of Conservation now has a new recreational hunting permit for small game animals.

Date:  04 April 2012

The Department of Conservation now has a new recreational hunting permit for small game animals.

The new permit is for small unprotected game animals on public conservation land (PCL). It includes animals such as Canada geese, feral geese, hares and rabbits.

Small unprotected game animals include Canada geese, feral geese, hares and rabbits

“The new permits replace earlier versions and restricts the hunting of unprotected game to specific areas and times,” says DOC National Hunting Advisor Ian Cooksley.

“You need your own permit, whether you are by yourself or part of a hunting party.” 

Anyone wanting to hunt on conservation land requires a hunting permit from DOC. Hunting without a permit is a breach of the Wild Animal Control, Wildlife and Conservation Acts.

A permit can be obtained from DOC Area Offices. Some standard conditions apply and special conditions have been added relating to firearm calibre, ammunition type, dogs and anything else relevant to hunting particular species.

The special conditions will reflect the level of public use at a site, its conservation values, management activities, terrain, boundaries, time of year and the interests of neighbouring landowners.

Hunters are reminded that ‘spotlighting’ or hunting after dark is strictly prohibited on PCL as it is illegal and endangers others.


More information

The new permits may require that the permit-holder;

  • use only a .22 rim-fire rifle, .22 hornet or shotgun
  • hunt only between 6 pm and sunset (owing to other activities or public use)
  • not hunt within 300 metres of neighbouring properties
  • use dog(s).

Canada geese

Canada geese are now listed as ‘wildlife not protected’ under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife Act 1953, so recreational hunters, landowners and culling agencies can now hunt them at any time of the year by any legal, humane means. 

Every member of a party hunting Canada geese on public conservation land must carry a small game hunting permit. The permit is not transferrable.  

Other hunting permits

DOC’s hunting permits authorise access to and hunting activities on PCL only. They do not confer rights of access over private land.

Deer, tahr, chamois, feral pigs, wallaby and feral goats

On PCL, the hunting of deer, tahr, chamois, feral pigs, wallabies and feral goats (i.e. WAC Act species) is authorised through:

  • an online Open hunting permit (DOC website or Area Office)
  • a Roar Block hunting permit (Area Office; only during the roar)
  • an RHA hunting permit (DOC website or Area Office; applies specifically to hunting in a Recreational Hunting Area)
  • a Restricted hunting permit (Area Office)


Possum hunters using traps on public conservation land require a trapping permit from DOC.

Gamebird hunters

Regardless of where they hunt, all gamebird hunters require a gamebird licence from Fish & Game NZ. If hunting gamebirds on public conservation land, each hunter also requires a gamebird hunting permit from DOC. Area Offices usually issue gamebird hunting permits in the form of a Restricted Hunting Permit, and it is essentially an authority to hunt with weapons on conservation land. A dog is deemed to be a weapon if that is the sole means of hunting.

Organised culls

Where organised culls of Canada geese or rabbits are being managed by another agency or group on public conservation land, a management plan will be prepared to ensure that issues such as animal welfare, public safety and consultation meet required standards.  

In addition, each member actively involved in the cull will have to carry an individual small game hunting permit as a legal requirement; the permit is not transferrable.


In many areas of New Zealand hunters are required to obtain a Dog Control Permit if they wish to take a dog onto public conservation land. Please check with the DOC visitor centre or office nearest to your planned hunting area to find out exactly what rules and restrictions will apply to you.


Hunters are asked to always consider the following:

  • Public conservation land is open to the public and hunters should expect to encounter other hunters and visitors, at any time.
  • Always consider your firing zone – both the zone beyond your target and the ricochet zone over riverbeds and water.
  • Identify your target. Some goose hunters surround themselves with decoys and conceal themselves near the decoys.

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Ian Cooksley, +64 4 296 1391,

See also:

Hunting permits and licences

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