NEW ZEALAND: A Short Hunt, Some Epic Fly Fishing & A Little Touring On The South Island NZ

firehuntfish

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We just returned from our first visit to New Zealand.... I started fly fishing seriously in my early teens, and as long as I could remember, it's always been my dream to sight fish for the consistently big trout that only New Zealand offers. I started planning this trip with the priority of fly fishing for as many days as I could afford followed by a few days of touring & sightseeing. I picked the month of February not because of the hunting opportunities, but because it was the best month to try and fish for trout with a dry fly.... Adding a hunt to the trip was an afterthought, and the possibility of hunting and fishing NZ on the same trip appeared unaffordable. However, after some more thorough research, we found one of just a handful of outfitters that was happily willing to offer a relatively short, early season management hunt that was within our realistic price range. So, after about a year of planning we were lined up to spend our first 5 days hunting the South Island with Peter Chamberlain of Kiwi Wilderness Safaris based in the Canterbury province near the small town of Waikari.

What would normally be ideal weather for mid-February for fly fishing and touring actually turned out to be tough hunting weather. Our first 5 days was record high heat for that part of NZ in February. The bright sunny days, and record high temps made for tough hunting conditions, and limited our hunting opportunities to just a few hours early morning and late afternoon each day. Luckily for us, Peter is an experienced hunter who knows the land and the habits of these animals intimately. His ability to spot game and judge game quality is nothing less than impressive. We definitely made the most of the limited opportunities that we had.

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Peter, Lisa, and 'Sophie" glassing....

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Sophie keeping Lisa company on the spotting scope...

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Lisa lining up the first shot of the trip....

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First animal in NZ! A great private property, low-fence NZ red Stag...
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With a great red stag down, we hunted hard the next 2 days for a management fallow stag....
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Time and patience paid off with a beautiful orange color phased fallow stag. The full velvet was a nice bonus! We spent the final day and a half hunting for a black color phased fallow or possibly an Arapawa ram. The problem wasn't finding animals, just finding the right animal. We spotted several more really great trophy fallow, but none that fit the management criteria for us. The many Arapawa that we saw were all young males and ewes... Nonetheless, we left Peter with 5 fun days of hard hunting and 2 fantastic animals to show for our efforts.

Part 2 of the trip was to be four guided days of trout fishing with Martin Langlands of Troutlands.com, also out of the Canterbury province. We fished some very diverse water and landscapes during our 4 days with Martin. The main goal for this trip was to sight fish for trout and that's exactly what Martin delivered. Martin is probably one of the best I have ever seen at spotting fish and that is high praise from someone like me that can see fish pretty damn good! With the exception of some wind here and there, we had good conditions, and some epic fishing with dozens of really quality trout on the dry fly coming to hand, with the highlight of the trip being a 2-foot plus "gravel gargoyle" brown on a dry fly...

The last 5 days of the trip were planned to include some sightseeing around the rest of the South Island and hopefully some DIY fishing opportunities of which NZ has many.... They say you can experience all 4 seasons in one day in NZ, and we found that to be true. A trip that started out with bright sun and record highs concluded with heavy rain, cold and the first snow of the season in the higher elevations. We went from shorts and flip flops to fleece and boots by the end of our trip. Unfortunately for me, the rains turned most of the water to chocolate milk, and my DIY fishing opportunities were non-existent. We had a few short breaks in the weather in Queenstown, but our last 2 days were a wash-out. We spent most of that time touring the many fine local pubs enjoying some great NZ beer and wine... All in all, it was a great trip with lots of memories made. Here are just a few of the highlights from the second half of the trip....

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Fish of the trip! My 2'+ riffle gator!

A few pictures of the magnificent landscapes of the South Island...
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BRICKBURN

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Nice fish.
Sorry the rains took out the water for you.
Management Red Deer - NZ is crazy. That's a nice Stag.
 

stug

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Looks like a great trip, Peter is one of the best guides in NZ. Nice looking fish too. Yep it has been a weird summer this year. You probably got the best of the weather even with the rain and snow at the end.
 

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That looks like a hell of a trip! Nice "management" stag
 

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Congrats, that is a very nice red deer.
 

Lee M

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Wow. Very nice. Some of those streams look small and fairly shallow - that would be fun! And that Stag. That is one heck of a management animal. Congrats!
 

firehuntfish

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Wow. Very nice. Some of those streams look small and fairly shallow - that would be fun! And that Stag. That is one heck of a management animal. Congrats!

Hi Lee,

I found out very quickly that small water can hold very big fish in NZ... But then again, you really can't compare NZ to any other place that I have fished. It doesn't follow the rules... My big brown in particular came out of all very small stream that was less than 3m wide in many places. Those big fish go absolutely berserk when hooked in those tight spaces! What these small streams lack in numbers, they make up for in quality... Actually, the biggest river we fished during the trip had the smaller fish of the trip... Go figure...

A footnote I should have mentioned about the red stag... That stag was taken on a low fence part of a 20,000 acre private property cattle and sheep farm. The outfitter, Peter Chamberlain, was very upfront about what a "typical" management stag would look like. He also mentioned that we would hunt for the biggest stag we could find regardless of what it would score. Lisa's stag was not typical of what is normally taken as a management animal. Peter was pretty certain that this stag would likely score a bronze medal, but he did not charge us extra because it was taken in the low fence part of the ranch. Because of the genetics, Peter thinks he might have escaped a high fence reserve as a young animal and stayed on the ranch with the wild stags... Normally, an animal like that would have cost $1500-2500 depending on the outfitter, but Peter was true to his word, and he counted it as a "management" animal.
 

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The trip was worth it for that big fat brownie on a dry!
 

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Thanks for the pictures! It reminded me of how badly I’d like to go back!
Some hog trout for sure!
 

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Very nice!! Congrats to you both!!
 

Bhfs300

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Great seeing someone else hunting with Peter and Kiwi Wilderness Safari in NZ.
I had the opposite conditions with a cyclone going the the whole time I was was hunting back in April 2017.
Looks like you had a great hunt and some great fishing.
Did you bring your red stag and fallow stag back with you on your flight?
Tom
 

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I,too enjoyed my hunt with Peter. Nice stag there. Looks like you had a great trip. Catching browns on a dry fly looks like a lot of fun. Congrats.
Bruce
 

firehuntfish

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Great seeing someone else hunting with Peter and Kiwi Wilderness Safari in NZ.
I had the opposite conditions with a cyclone going the the whole time I was was hunting back in April 2017.
Looks like you had a great hunt and some great fishing.
Did you bring your red stag and fallow stag back with you on your flight?
Tom

Tom,
We did bring our antlers back in an extra duffel bag that we brought. As you know, Peter is happy to take you to the government building in Christchurch to get the $50 NZ export permit. Didn't need it though.... Never got checked upon re-entry into Houston, but I would never try it without the export permit. From what I understand, you can also bring up to 50lbs of meat home from NZ.... In hindsight, I wish we would have done that, but with 10 more days in NZ ahead of us driving to the far end of the island, it would have been a challenge logistically. We still got to eat all the backstraps and tenderloins from both animals while in camp. We had a NZ cookout on that last evening with the rancher's family. I made country-fried venison steak for them which was a big hit...
 

Bhfs300

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As nice a stag as it was did you bring the cape also? You didn’t say.
Looked like 6x7?
 

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As nice a stag as it was did you bring the cape also? You didn’t say.
Looked like 6x7?

Tom,
The stag is a 6x7 with a cool kicker straight off the back of the right beam that you can't see in the photos. We didn't not bring the capes, although we could have with the permit... I have animals now that I have no room for... My Cape buffalo from 2017 which I just got done literally takes up the entire dining room and half the living room. I should charge him rent.. LOL.. We are going to do Euro mounts for both stags...
 

firehuntfish

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A few shots of my wife's sky dive over the Southern Alps out of Queenstown. You can see the flows from the glaciers really well from a couple of the pics...

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Man, that's a hell of a trip. Love those brownies. Not a fly fisherman, I'd love to pull a #2 brown roostertail through those waters. Thanks for sharing.
 

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Great report and it's got me even more excited about my upcoming red stag and tahr hunt with Peter Chamberlain. After reading @Bhfs300 hunting report a few years ago and then getting more info from @gillettehunter , I knew that I needed to go hunt the south island of NZ and Peter Chamberlain was the guy to book the hunt with. Will be hunting during the roar in mid to late April.
 
 

 

 

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