Wairau Lagoons


The Wairau Lagoons are about 2,000 ha of saline marsh and mudflats between the Wairau River mouth and the Vernon Estate to the south.

Permits and licences you need

To hunt waterfowl you require:

  • a Fish & Game New Zealand game bird licence obtainable from sports shops, Fish & Game New Zealand or go to the Fish & Game website
  • a DOC game bird hunting permit.

How to get a DOC game bird hunting permit

A permit is required to hunt this area which is now issued through the Richmond Fish & Game office, on behalf of DOC Renwick.

Apply for a Wairau Lagoons Hunting Permit here.

The following details will be required:

  • full name
  • residential address
  • phone number
  • email address
  • Fish & Game licence number
  • Firearm Licence Number.

If you also require a dog permit, include these details about your dog:

  • name
  • breed
  • colour
  • sex
  • current council registration number.

For enquiries email the Renwick DOC Office renwick@doc.govt.nz or Nelson/Marlborough Fish & Game nelsonmarlborough@fishandgame.org.nz

Season dates

Duck shooting season will open from Saturday 4 May 2024 closing Sunday 28 July 2024 – this includes swans (season 1).

Season 2 for swans will open on Saturday 10 August 2024 and close on Sunday 25 August 2024.

Identify your target

During the autumn and winter months the predominant species in the lagoons are game birds but protected species will also be seen during the open game season.

The protected grey teal population is increasing, and hunters must take care to positively identify their target.


By land

From the end of Hardings Road, or off Redwood Pass Road. Apply to the Blenheim or Richmond office for gate code (via permit only with strict access conditions

Apply to Marlborough Field Officer Vaughan Lynn for gate code and access rules.

Vaughan Lynn: vlynn@fishandgame.org.nz  / +64 27 222 5928

By boat

From the Wairau Bar. 

Wairau Lagoons map (PNG, 924K)

Know before you go

  • Mud in some areas can be very deep and care should be taken in unfamiliar areas.
  • Besides the obvious main channels in the northern part of the lagoons, and Te Aropipi Channel which runs along inside the seaward Boulder Bank, few parts of the lagoons are more than 1 m deep.
  • The water is brackish, and shotguns require careful cleaning.
  • Fresh water should be taken for gun dogs.

Code of conduct

The former wildlife refuge status over Big Lagoon has been lifted to provide additional hunting opportunities. The retention of this new hunting area will depend on the behaviour of hunters and adherence to the following code of conduct:

  • Fixed shooting stands above mean high water springs only.
  • Moored floating stands 200 m from any other marked stand.
  • No plant material to be used for maimai cover due to the likely hood of dropping weed seeds
  • No disturbance to archaeological sites, artefacts or native plants.
  • No litter including spent cartridges.
  • Wheeled vehicles restricted to formed roads.
  • All boats restricted to five knots.
  • No dogs other than trained retrievers during the open game season.
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