Image: Andrew Walmsley | ©


You need a small game hunting permit from DOC for the recreational hunting of small game on public conservation land. Small game includes Canada geese, feral geese, hares and rabbits.

What is covered by a small game permit

The small game hunting permit covers:

  • rabbit
  • hares, and
  • Canada geese

Fees – usually free

Small game hunting permits are usually issued free of charge.

Special conditions

When applying for a permit, discuss what special conditions can be added for firearm calibre, ammunition type, dogs and anything else relevant to hunting particular species, at a specific time and place, for example:

  • use only a .22 rim-fire rifle, .22 hornet or shotgun (these weapons are not normally permitted for other types of hunting)
  • hunt within restricted hours (where hunting may impact other activities or public use, restricted times may allow hunting to be conducted)
  • not hunt within 300 metres of neighbouring properties
  • using dogs

Special conditions are likely to 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.

Contact your local DOC office for specific information

Check with the local DOC office to see if small game hunting opportunities are available – not all regions have suitable areas.

Find your local DOC office.

Permits are issued by the local DOC office. You need your own permit, whether you are by yourself or part of a hunting party. Hunting without a permit is a breach of the Wild Animal Control, Wildlife and Conservation Acts.

When getting your permit, you'll also be given information about safety considerations, access issues, and so on for a particular area.

Regional notes – not a whole list

This is not a list of all places you can hunt small game. Check with your local DOC office to see what small game hunting opportunities are near by.

North Island

Auckland and Whangārei regions
  • Small game hunting permits are not available.
Waikato region
  • From Mercer to Te Awamutu and west of Waihou river, there are no small game hunting permits being issued. 
  • A permit for the hunting of Canada geese is issued in conjunction with the game bird hunting permit during game bird season only.
Wairarapa region
  • Small game hunting permits will only be issued for the hunting of Canada geese at Lake Wairarapa, using only 10, 12 or 20 gauge shotguns.

South Island

Canterbury region
  • Issues gamebird, Canada goose and feral goose permits for hunting in Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.
  • Does not issue small game hunting permits for Mahaanui District/Christchurch area.
  • Only issues small game permits for rabbits in the Two Thumb Range hunting block.

Safety considerations

  • Know that hunting during the hours of darkness (30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise) is strictly prohibited on public conservation land – it is illegal and endangers others.
  • Be aware of the potential for bullets to ricochet and endanger others – rabbits and hares are often hunted on river beds or rocky areas.
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