NEW ZEALAND: Hunting With Manuka Point Lodge South Island New Zealand

Rickmt

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My wife and I journeyed from our home in Montana to Christchurch, New Zealand in May of this year . The flight was a lot shorter than the 16 hours to Africa from Atlanta . I believe our air time was about 12 hours out of LA.
We did some sightseeing upon arrival and then took a scenic train over the southern Alps to Greymouth. The trip was very beautiful up to the Arthurs Pass and then due to construction we were transferred to a bus for the descent down to Greymouth . It poured the rain on that side of the South Island and we were going the wrong way on a VERY narrow, twisting road with the occasional 20% grade !
Upon arrival in Greymouth it was raining so hard that we ran from roof overhang to roof overhang until we found a sandwich shop and got a Kiwi lunch . When we arrived back at the bus station we were told the bus was full and despite our reservations we were out of luck . We exploded at the lady and got on the bus which was full of people going to Christchurch.
At Arthurs Pass we transferred to the train in the sunshine and enjoyed our ride down the mountains ,through the agricultural plains and into Christchurch. The beer and wine flowed freely that night at dinner .

The next day Will Patterson picked us up at our hotel and we headed out of town to their 18,000 acre station which has been utilized as a hunting property since Don Patterson sold his ag operation and purchased Manuka Point . A beautiful ride across the plains and up into the mountain country under the southern alps



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Rickmt

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We drove onto dirt roads past farms and lots of sheep until the land rover pulled to a gravel parking lot where we transferred our gear and ourselves into another land rover with a snorkel ! We proceeded to cross the Rakaia River on a diagonal path . As the river is a multi braided round stone waterway only one of the 8 or so braids gave our driver Will , any concern .
Upon reaching the other side a short ride brought us to the beautiful lodge .
Manuka point is truly on a point where two large rivers converge . The Pattersons have taken about 2000 acres of steep hills with thick Manuka scrub and evergreen trees and made that their high fence operation . The terrain varies from very hilly and steep down to the river on each side to grassy open areas on the top of the more gently sloping top The remainder of the 18000 acre property is available for no-fence hunting and a recent article in Sports Afield by Diana Rupp chronicles her pursuit of a free range stag .
I was here to hunt a 400-420 class stag as well as a fallow deer buck and an Arapawa Ram and therefore we would be hunting the high fence area.

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Rickmt

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After a a great meal prepared by Julie Patterson we enjoyed a restful night in the beautiful Manuka Point Lodge . The guest rooms directly face the snow capped range of the southern alps and are more than comfortable . My wife liked the luxurious , big rooms.

At first light we headed up the hill behind the lodge on foot for our first stalk of the hunt . After about a half our of walking up a dirt two track in evergreens and Manuka brush with an occassional fallow deer sighting we arrived at the spine of the point in mixed brush and grassland . We walked over the crest of the spine and saw the immense river on the other side. As we continued up the spine we saw numerous groups of fallow deer and red deer and two or three red stags which were not in the size range of 400-425 which I was after.

The land was a gentle slope up the spine and we could see about a mile up on the backside of the point . The lodge side of the point was steeper and contained much thicker 10 foot tall Manuka brush and evergreen trees . It was clear to this old elk hunter that the fallow and red deer were out feeding on the more open side and when spooked would evaporate into thick Manuka brush. As we looked way out in front of our approach we could easily see the white variety of the fallow deer mixed in with the typical and dark varieties .
As we travelled on our PH spotted a stag out about 400 yards and we glassed and determined a cautious , closer look was needed .

As a Montana meat hunter I was in awe of the rack on this animal and even though I had promised myself not to shoot a stag on day 1 out of 4 my head was spinning . Back home I often shoot the first elk I see especially if it is in a downhill proximity to my truck!
The stag was head down feeding toward us and we advanced slowly unless he lifted his head . At about 300 yards things were getting serious and Will whispered the stag was about what I was looking for and was a more typical than non-typical with lots of mass and nice crowns . To me there wasn't a damn thing typical about the horny pile on top of the animals head .
Will supplied the sticks and I rested my winchester featherweight 300 WSM and waited as the animal fed now downhill and angling away slightly . After a significant pause the animal turned mostly broadside and Will whispered "280 yards ". I let the 180 grain Accubond fly and the animal lurched forward. I followed with a second shot which was not needed but made me feel better ! He danced a bit and fell dead . My dream of a big stag like I had watched on the hunt shows was a reality . My wife and I hugged and I thanked Will for his efforts but most of all I thanked the animal which I always do.

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Rickmt

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After a nice meal of lamb from the Patterson flock we ate the second incredible Julie Patterson homemade desert!
We toasted some New Zealand wine and hit the bed . Visions of fallow deer danced in my head and i was tempted to sneak into the skinning shed for a late night look at my stag!

Morning came and it was Fallow deer day ! After breakfast I requested a ride up the hill in the utility vehicle . We travelled the same route as the day before and stopped about 3/4 of the way to the top . My wife and I are in our 60's and had 3 knees replaced the year before, so it felt good to be up on top of the point with fresh legs .

We saw big groups of fallow and proceeded in much the same manner as the day before . We bumped groups of deer and let them leave and then continued on . By staying lower on the hill we could move and pop up on the top for a look at the groups without bumping them all into the Manuka brush.

In one of these looks I spotted a typical brown Fallow I liked and took a quick 100 yard shot and hit too low but luckily was good enough to get the job done before my buck was swallowed into the brush .

My wife and I spent a quiet half hour while Will retrieved the utility vehicle . The views were spectacular and the place reminded us of some of the high mountain country in Montana. Another great day and it was only lunchtime.

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Ragman

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Wow!!! Not too hard to see that you shouldn't pass him up, even on the first morning. What a gorgeous animal...Congratulations!!!
 

BRICKBURN

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Congratulations. I can see why you were not going to wait.
 

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I remember the old saying "a bird in the hand is like 2 in the brush". Good stag that fit what you wanted. Good shooting and congrats. Nice Fallow too.
Bruce
 

Rickmt

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At lunch , Don Patterson offered to take me to a neighbors place across the river for a goose hunt.
Don's good friend , a local cattle/sheep buyer joined us for the hunt .
We used layout blinds and carefully brushed them with vegetation Don had cut earlier. The geese were visible in the river below and they were there by the dozens

When Don left to hide the Land Rover in a nearby barn a lone duck flew over the set several times . Don questioned me as to why I did not shoot the duck and I told him I didn't know what it was nor if I should shoot the duck . Don told me it was a paradise duck and the species was very sought after by visiting hunters along with the Black Swans that frequent the South Island .
We shot 5 geese with 5 shots and I really enjoyed the Kiwi humor that was bantered about .

From our perch on the side of a mountain in a green field surrounded by sheep it was remarkable how different this hunting was from goose hunting on the eastern shore of Maryland where I grew up . What was absolutely the same was the funny stories and jabs that goose/duck hunters throw around while hunting .

After we left Manuka point we travelled about the South island and saw numerous Paradise ducks in farm fields and lakes and they are beautiful ducks!
 

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cagkt3

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Great stag!! That country looks beautiful - NZ is definitely on the wish list
 

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Day 3 was a second Fallow day due to the available time and a nice offer from Don for me to take a blonde Fallow deer .
Basically same hunt again but we walked deeper into the point and eventually encountered a good buck . Clean shot and a great time with Will my young PH .

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Rickmt

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Day 4 was Arapawa Ram day and I knew this we be my last time hunting on this trip to Manuka Point . As you can imagine , I was filled with mixed emotions not wanting this trip to another piece of God's country to end .

Up the hill and The Red Stags were out today big time . We had seen some Arapawa Rams during prior days and they were not nearly as wary as the Fallow had been . We filled that tag in short order and went down the mountain in a misty rain .

We departed Manuka Point the next day and travelled 5 days around The South Island visiting Lake Tekapo , Wanaka and we flew home from Queenstown. The towns were great, the people were friendly , the craft beer was cold and most importantly my wonderful wife shopped to her hearts content . We now have several possum/wool sweaters which are great back home in the Montana winter . I am not exactly sure what kind of critter this possum is but he really makes a sweater soft !

My thanks to Manuka Point and the Pattersons, Don and Julie . Julie your deserts alone are worth coming back for !

Special thanks to Will Patterson my young PH who was patient and considerate at all times .

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cpr0312

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Looks like yall had a great time, congrats and thanks for sharing!
 

Ridgewalker

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Kiwi country is so magnificent! I need to return.
You did outstanding! Congratulations!
 

flatwater bill

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Rick.............beautiful trophies and great report. Photos with outstanding backdrops. Your stag is one of my dreams, and others you foto'd also whoppers. You mentioned "Land Rover", but fortunately, your were in a LandCruiser. Otherwise you may still be in the river. :p Sure enjoyed your hunt, thanks for taking us along...........FWB
 

Rickmt

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OOPS ! That's what you get from a Chevrolet owner! Regards and thanks for the clarification!
 

BRICKBURN

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Looks like a great place to hunt.
Thanks for the write up.
Again, congrats on your success
 

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