NEW ZEALAND: My NZ Trips

Northwest9

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I thought I had posted my 2021 Tahr trip here, but when I went to post my 2022 Chamois trip I couldnt find it, so here is both, sorry for the long read


2021 Tahr Trip, keep in mind this was written last year, and posted on a local aussie forum, so Ive just copied it straight from there.

I haven’t posted a hunt report for a very long time, as most of the hunts lately have only been locally after pigs and fallow, and a really nice sambar stag I put my mate Robbo onto, but that was his hunt not mine. Robbo and I booked in for a trip back before Covid and were meant to be in NZ in early May 2020, but that got pushed to this year.

It was looking pretty grim for this year too, but then the bubble opened, we were able to get some flights sorted out. The NZ Firearms visitors license page was offline for a long time in the lead up as well, but they got it back online with just enough time to get our permits and take our rifles.



Our guide, Adam Clark, from Southern Alps Adventures was great with all the lead up bullshit we had to go thru, easily adjusting things as needed for our arrival. We had booked in for Tahr and Chamois, but with the shortened trip, and very poor forecast on the west coast, we decided to leave the Chamois for a return trip next year, and focus on the Tahr this trip, so we weren’t rushed.

Adam picked us up from Christchurch, and we headed out to a "bach", a really nicely done up cabin at a lake he has out near Mount Somers for the first night. The next morning we woke to some grim weather, but the scenery around the bach was stunning. We packed up and made our way up into the Rangitata, to a private property that he has access to up there.

We saw a few Tahr on the way in, but the wind was blowing hard, and the rain was coming in waves, keeping the animals fairly bunkered down.

We drove up to the hut we were staying in, and got ourselves unpacked, and went for a stroll upriver to do some glassing as the weather had eased a bit. We saw plenty of good bulls that evening and noted where they were for later.
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The hut
The next morning we woke to a nice calm day, it had been snowing overnight, so the tops were all covered, making for some great photography, and pushing the Tahr down a little lower.
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We drove back downstream to a spot to check the rifles hadn’t taken a knock in transit, and met up with Adam's cousin Ryan (Parky), who was coming along for a couple of days to put more eyes on the hill. Adam asked before we left Aus if we minded him coming along to help. Parky has guided in Canada in the past, and has been hunting Tahr for decades, so we were stoked to have him along. Between them there wasn’t much about Tahr hunting they didn’t know.
While we tested the rifles, Parky had started glassing up bulls, so by the time we were done, there was half a dozen good bulls already spotted on the face we were first going to target.

A decision was made to chase a particular bull. I really wanted Robbo to get a good bull and get as good a NZ hunting experience as possible, so I told him to go first, and I would wait down in the creek with Ryan and watch the hunt unfold from there. This was my 4th NZ hunt, and I already had a Tahr at home, so I was pretty determined that Robbo got one, while the weather was good.

Adam and Robbo started to climb, and Ryan and I settled in for the show. Bulls seemed to appear from everywhere, and even though the bull they originally went up after had moved off, the options kept presenting themselves. There were so many big bulls up there. At one stage, I think I was more tense than the guys on the hill, as I was watching them creep up on a bull, that I could see they had lost sight of due to the terrain, and got to within metres of it, before he got uneasy and moved off. That bull moved off downhill a bit, but as he hadn’t been badly spooked, he hung around a hundred or so metres away, but out of sight to the guys on the hill.

They settled in to wait him out, and fortuitously, a young bull almost walked into their lap, spooked, ran downhill, almost running into the big bull they wanted. The group of bulls the big one was with decided something was wrong and started to move out of the area. This gave Robbo his chance, and his 300wm did its job.

The bull fell into some scrub and had hung up by the horns on some matagouri, making for a very tough recovery. By the time a few photos had been taken, and the caping complete, Robbo got to complete the experience with a scree slide descent in the dark to get back to the creek where Ryan and I were waiting with the utes. This bull had an immense mane, with fantastic blonde tips, and measured in at a bee’s dick under 12"
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Back to the hut for big feed, (Adam had so much food, and his wife had made a heap of excellent slices for us as well) and a couple of beers for the guys to celebrate. I stayed off the beers, as I had started a dry spell on the 27th of January, that I planned to continue until the hunt was over.

The next morning we had another clear day, so after a breakfast of bacon and eggs, we set off to start glassing again. We stopped on a small hill a few km down the river, where we had seen several bulls the day we came in, and on the way to the rifle range, and immediately started spotting several bulls. I spotted a large mob of Tahr up above a fork of the river, which contained a couple of big bulls.

After some time assessing the mob, and a few other options, Adam and I set off up the fork of the river, keeping to the shadows, and glassing upwards, waiting to see where the mob went.

The mob had bedded down in some Beech trees, so we spent a couple of hours watching and filming a few young bulls and nannies in the creek bed, while we waited for the mob to start moving again, hoping to form a plan based off what they were going to do.

After a while, we decided that if nothing happened with that mob in the next 30 minutes, we would start climbing up a ridge that would give us a possible vantage point over them. With so many Tahr moving around, we didn’t want to just go running around spooking everything, but the day was getting on and we would need to make a move soon. Suddenly 2 big bulls and a few nannies sky lined about 360m away, up high, and further upstream. These bulls were rutting hard and chasing the nannies relentlessly. With these 2 bulls now in the picture, our plans changed.
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My bull on the skyline
One of the bulls followed some of the nannies back where they had come from, but the other followed the rest in our direction. As soon as they were out of sight, we started to make our way a bit closer, and got set up on the bags. Surprisingly, while he was out of sight, they had descended a fair way, and popped out at only 225. They continued down and he gave me a nice broadside at 200m, Adam had set up a rest with our packs, and I had a nice steady rest for the shot. My 325wsm hit him hard, and he fell only 20 or so metres away from the shot, further downhill, and in an easy to reach tussock face. After all the pack training in the lead up, the gym work, and 106 days off the beers, I only needed to climb about 30 vertical metres from the riverbed.

Robbo and Ryan came over to meet us on the tussock face, and my dry spell was broken with a few Speights on the hill side, before heading back to the hut. This bull went over 12", with a great big mane to go with it. A slightly darker mane than my west coast bull, with much bigger horns and mane. I will have to put them in separate rooms, or he’ll make my other 10.5” bull look too small.
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My bull on the ground
The next morning we packed up the hut, as the weather was coming back in. We were going to try for a nanny, for a flat skin for Robbo, but a helicopter had begun working in the area, spraying out weeds, and the sound of the chopper had everything very much out of site and bunkered down, so we headed out of the mountains, down to the pub for a feed and some beers, before going back to the bach for a tidy up. After a clean up, we grabbed a few beers each, and went up to where the lord of the rings was filmed (never watched it, but a nice spot) and glassed for a while, just to see if we could spot a deer or two out on the DoC land, but the wind was howling, it was brutally cold and we were out of beer, so called it a day.

The next day, with some time left on the trip, and both of us securing good bulls, we decided a bit of duck shooting would be a good idea. We headed to Dunsandel to drop the bulls off at Tyron Southward taxidermy, and then to Ashburton, Adam’s hometown, to get all the duck shooting gear ready.

That night we set up some ground blinds and a couple of dozen decoys in an oats crop just out of town, and despite the ducks wanting to land further away from us, or just being too spooky to land, we did secure a pair of Paradise ducks for the evening. I had forgotten how much fun a semi auto shotgun was.

Adam dropped us at the pub for a feed and a few beers while he headed off to a pond to set out some decoys at a bush blind ready for the morning shoot. We saw plenty of birds moving, and ended up with 5 mallards, before we had to pack up and head to the airport.
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The pond set up
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Some of the Mallards
All in all, it was a bloody ripper of a trip, and we cannot wait to get over there next year to go after the Chamois. Adam could not have done a better job, far exceeding our expectation, and we have already started planning return trips, for once the chamois trip is done next year.



2022 Chamois Trip

Seemingly an age ago, my mate Robbo and I booked a Tahr and Chamois hunt with Adam of Southern Alps Adventures. Covid doing what covid does, plans got a little changed
We managed to sneak in the Tahr bit last year, in the short travel bubble, but the last minute border closures, and uncertainty reduced the time over there, and forced the Chamois component to be this year. This suited me perfectly, as what better way to bring in your 40th than hunting the NZ South Island. Way better than the office for sure


Adam met us at Christchurch after a much delayed flight, at 2am local time on Saturday, and we headed to Ashburton for a short nights sleep, before meeting the chopper at Midday on Saturday.

We flew up into the Rakaia Valley, to a hut, and settled in, did a little glassing that evening, but the hunt really started on the Sunday Morning.
We set off not long after daylight, and walked up one of the many creeks, stopping and glassing many times. Adam spotted a group of Chamois a long way up near the tops, in the snow, and these were marked to pay attention to, but a bit out of reach at the time.

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Getting our glass on

I managed to spot a Chamois on the move not long after, much closer to us, but he was on the move. The bucks hadn’t mobbed up with the does just yet, but were running around looking for them. We moved to cut him off, pushing hard up the creek, picking him up a few times, before, for whatever reason, he changed course and was seen heading off, far from where we hoped he’d end up

Back to the hut for a feed, then up the next creek along that afternoon, glassing for Chamois, and also hoping for a meat red, for camp meat, and because Robbo hadn’t shot a red before. No chamois seen, but right on last light we had a chance on a Red that had stepped out up the creek from us, Robbo lined up, but the shot went high.

Monday morning we set off for a creek a fair way up valley, that Adam was pretty confident about. After a hike of maybe 5 or so km, we started glassing our way up the creek. We made it maybe 6 or 700m into the creek and were happily glassing some very likely country when Robbo says “I cant tell if that’s a Tahr or just a bush up just below the skyline. I was facing the other direction, glassing the other face, so I spun around, put up the binos, and happened to land straight onto a Chamois right on the skyline staring down.

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Sunrise shot taken as we headed up to the creek that morning, no fancy camera, just an old iphone

Robbo was still trying to “walk me in” to where he wanted me to look, while I’m trying to quietly get Adam’s attention, as he was sitting behind a spotter a few metres away, looking at yet more country. This chamois would disappear off the skyline, and reappear 60 or 70 metres further along, but heading along the ridge in the general direction of the mouth of the creek. It bedded for 10 minutes or so, but then was on the move again. We carefully headed back down the creek, trying to stay out of sight, or at worst, cast as small a shadow as possible. We stopped at a likely spot, but after 20 minutes, it was decided he must have beaten us, and we moved again, setting up behind a big dead log in the middle of the creek, which gave us a protected view of a heap of country, hoping he would appear again.

Within a minute, Adam found him again, way up high. I ranged him at 352m ballistic distance, and then promptly lost him again while swapping back to the rifle. Finally I found him, and let a shot go. Completely forgetting the howling wind up high, I missed by 2 feet.

The buck had obviously not heard the shot, with the distance and wind, so luckily only stepped a few feet away, trying to work out what was going on, when Adam had me correct my point of aim. I aimed a couple of inches behind the last rib, in the middle of the guts, to allow for drift and the next shot flattened him. High fives and congratulations quickly turned to thoughts of recovery, with Adam starting to assess the best recovery options.

Robbo stayed where the shot was taken, with both spotting scopes set up on where the chamois had fallen, in case one fell over in the wind, and landmarks clearly identified for when we got up there.

Adam and I set off, making our way up creek, with Adam giving me tips and advice on climbing in that country, and stressing that if I were to at any point feel I was out of my comfort zone, I was to pull out and head back.

Once we started to climb out of the creek, up the face, we made it a bit of a way up, before I looked up at the worsening terrain above, then foolishly looked down at the bottom of the creek. I figured if I was worried at that level of terrain, the above terrain was only worse, so I may as well descend now rather than add further risk. A little involuntary leg shake let me know I was only putting myself at risk, and really, putting Adam at risk, as he had to worry about me as well as himself while up there, so I swallowed my pride, and returned to the creek floor, and back to watch the recovery from the ground. Ive climbed a bit over there, but this face was a lot steeper than anything I’d been up before.

Not long after where I turned back, it turned pretty nasty, and Adam was forced to take a different route. Being a dead set mountain goat, he was determined to recover it. I was starting to get genuinely concerned for his safety, and was ready to radio him to pull the pin, when he called through, asking was he parallel with it. Looking thru the spotter that was set on the spot, I was shocked to see him standing on a ledge about 10 feet above it.

The wind was too high to for Adam to stand tall, and the spot it fell too small to pose it up, so Adam took a couple of quick photos were it fell, and set about caping it out. My shot had caught it in the base of the neck, taking the spine with it, which was lucky, as the ledge it was standing on was only quite small, and had it have fallen or jumped, not just dropped where it stood, it would have not been recoverable, with an inaccessible bit of a cliff section below it.

It took a while for Adam to get back down, but once back, we headed back towards the hut, glassing for reds in the low slips along the way, but the wind was doing us no favours.

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Caped out, posed up as best we could in the circumstances, haven’t measured him, don’t care about the size, it’s a chamois buck from a great hunt, that’s enough for me

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It doesn’t look like it, but that beyond that spiny bush is a drop of some way, into a spot not even Adam would have recovered him from

Tuesday morning we headed off a couple of km in the other direction, and up quite a steep, narrow creek for some way, before being cut off at a landslide below a waterfall. Adam climbed up to see if there was an alternative path around, to no avail, commenting we couldn’t get up to the waterfall. Robbo remarked, “isn’t there a song about not chasing waterfalls?”

We descended maybe 50 metres or so before I stopped, turned and suggested Robbo was something unflattering, as I now had a shit old song by TLC, Chasing Waterfalls, stuck in my head… Adam admitted that he two was also now suffering the same. For the rest of the hunt, I was signing that chorus line over and over in my head. Enough to make a bloke insane. Robbo thoroughly enjoyed my suffering

We hiked back down the creek, and back to the hut for a feed, and set off again that arvo, looking for chamois and maybe a red. Adam spotted a Chamois bedded, but he was miles away, would have taken a days hike to get to him.

That night back at the hut, Adam cooked up some of the chamois back strap, and some whitebait he’d brought with him, caught in the mouth of the Rakaia. Apparently a local delicacy. It was a lot better than I expected, particularly the whitebait, given I’m not much of a fish eater. He did cook us up a couple of pieces of a salmon he had caught during the run earlier in the year, on the first or second night, which was equally as good. I have never eaten so well on a hunt

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Chamois backstrap, white bait patties, Speights. Good hunting fuel

Wednesday was spent still looking for a chamois for Robbo, back up the first creek looking for the first buck, who remained elusive, but time and Chamois behaviour beat us. I did spot a Doe and kid, but unfortunately, they didn’t have a buck with them. I did map the decent from our furthest point up that creek to the hut. 3.2km in distance and 400+ vertical metres.

We flew out of the mountains on Thursday, and headed to the pub for a couple of beers and a quick reconnect with the families back home, then spent the night of my 40th getting on the beers at Adams families “bach” by a lake up near where they shot some of the Lord of the Rings movie.
Back to Christchurch Friday to collect MPI paperwork for bringing back the cape and skull cap, then a night on the town before flying out Saturday morning

All in all a great trip, we hunted hard, ate like kings, saw some awesome country, and will be back next year to get Robbo onto one. Then who knows, Tahr with the bow maybe? A big NZ fallow perhaps, either way, we will be back each year to do it all again.


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Adam, in his natural element

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Robbo, not in his at all….

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Scree, so much fun to descend on, but hard on your boots

with a little luck, all my other covid delayed hunts come together this year.
 
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Nice trophies. Reminds me of my one and only trip to New Zealand. Wonderful country. Thanks for sharing your hunts.
Bruce
 

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