New Zealand Outfitter Experience

Cyril

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Hello all. I am new to the forum and beginning some research into a NZ guided hunt. I am looking at a combo for stag, tahr and chamois on the South Island. I have four specific outfitters that I am looking for any first hand experience with, good or bad. For my purposes, assume there are no other options. I have found some reviews on this site and others for two of these, but nothing in the other two. Here are my four:

Gary Herbert’s New Zealand Hunting - Gary Herbert

Cardrona Outfitters

South Pacific Safaris - Brent Harkerss

Exclusive Adventures New Zealand - Shaun Allison

Beyond these four I am looking for anyone who had a poor or negative experience on a NZ guided hunt. If it was not with one of these outfitters, I don’t necessarily need to know the outfitter you were with. I am more interested in what the issue was and what you could have asked / done prior to the trip to mitigate or hash out the negative aspects. Thanks in advance for any responses.
 

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For the Chamois check with your Outfitter for their method of hunting. I had a Chamois booked with my hunt . I was originally told we would fly up to the Mtns with the helicopter and then stalk the Chamois. When I arrived I found out you actually fly up and shoot the Chamois from the helicopter. Not my kind of hunting so I declined. It's your choice just check ahead of time.
 

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Also, check into your stag hunt. I am sure I am telling you something you already know, but unless specifically arranged for a free range stag, your hunt will almost certainly be in a fenced enclosure. Like all such hunts whether in Texas, South Africa, or new Zealand size of the enclosure can make a huge difference with respect to quality of the hunt. Finally, make sure you fully understand the trophy fee valuation system before pulling the trigger on a stag. Some offer a flat fee bracket system (a stag between X number of inches and X number of inches costs Y - others use a base medallion fee with additional cm charged until the next level is reached. In other words a base fee for bronze with a per cm charge until silver is reached. Either system works, but be sure to understand which is in play so there are no surprises.
 
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I can’t comment on the outfitters listed, but I’ve hunted all 3 species there. I don’t think you can go wrong with tahr and chamois if you talk to your outfitter about how you want to hunt. However, I don’t think I will ever hunt a stag in New Zealand behind a fence again. I would go hunting free range stags in roar without hesitation. I saw 3 stag hunting operations there and all seemed nearly identical. There is a major difference in temperament between the big estate stags and wild stags. If your primarily interested in harvesting a huge stag as a trophy you’ll have no shortage of opportunities, from what I saw it’s more selecting the stag you would like inside the size range you can afford. If you are looking for a hard hunting experience, free range is the way to go but the trophy won’t compare to the estate stags. This is my opinion, you can research yourself if you would like, but I think the change in temperament between the estate and wild stags comes from the meat/velvet industry. It’s difficult to keep overly aggressive animals so the characteristics get bred out over time.
 

bruce moulds

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i have heard that there are some who drop you from a helicopter, and then chase tahr or chamois toward you with the chopper.
by the time they get near enough to shoot they are absolutely f*#cked and beyond looking for danger, so you just shoot them.
i have even seen a video of this.
this is lower than shooting things behind a fence in a small paddock in some ways.
bruce.
 

CBH Australia

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Watching with interest. I'm in interested in doing a cull hunt in NZ. Just for the experience and a bit of sightseeing.
 

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Thank you both for the replies. Good advice and I will cover my bases.
Contact Chris Macarthy at Lake Hawea Hunting Safaris.

I can vouch for Chris personally, having known him since before he got in the business.

He can basically cater for most requirements but his specialty is wilderness, free-range Tahr and Chamois plus a limited number of free range Trophy Red stag hunts.
His Red stag hunts are conducted on a private property that has been specifically managed for quality stags and, although they still will not compare to the "preserve" styled stags available in N.Z, they are truely wild.

Regards.
Good hunting.
 

seth hollenbach

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I hunted with rangitata hunting (formerly kiwi safaris) in 2018. Plenty of all the above mentioned game. Helicopter was only needed for chamois. Sidexsides on this property were used to gain access to the tops of the mountains rather than helicopter. Save a lot of $! Great road system through the mountains here. Accommodations and PHs were great. It was a fenced hunt but huge piece of land. I would go back and do this hunt yesterday, but now with the understanding that it is not Africa. New Zealand is a must see and probably my favorite country on the planet. Agree with #red leg, Would ask them to be specific how they score the stag, exactly how they hunt the tahr/chamios. Is a helicopter required? Is heli fuel included in price or in addition to? Go and have fun!!!
 

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There are very few places that offer Chamois hunting without the use/need for a heli. Jim Gibson's New Zealand Safaris is one of those places. I can't comment positive or negative on any of the 4 you are asking about. Jim is a great guy with stellar reputation and simply amazing areas for stag, fallow, sheep, tahr, and chamois. It cant hurt to check him out along with the others you are considering.
 

Cyril

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I appreciate all the responses. I listed the four for a reason. I have credit to use with an outfitter/booking agent. These are the four places they book with in New Zealand. Having the credit is what makes NZ affordable for me to accomplish, at least at this point in time. There are a lot of other hunts I can book with the credit, some of which would be fully covered, but having the credit is what started my thought process. I have been compiling a list of questions for the outfitters to try and help me weed through them and several of the points raised here have helped me with the list. Thanks and keep them coming.
 

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I hunted with kiwi safaris 2015( now rangitata) I agree with Seth Hollebach. Dry Creek Station where you will hunt on foot for Tahr is top notch. I won’t do red stag again as the references I contacted before that hunt said “it’s an old mans hunt”-it’s a canned hunt only your wallet determines the size of your trophy. I shot a 350”stag just because as another reference said “once is probably OK”. If I were you I would do a drop camp/helicopter hunt for chamois and Tahr for 3 or four days -in outfitters best Chamois country and if you can’t find a good tahr 12” plus then go to private land like Dry Creek and get it their. Maybe late April as weather gets bad in high country. I am going to do this on a summer hunt since I only want the skulls. Hides are better latter and May is prime rut for Tahr. They were rutting when I was there in 3rd week of April and Tahr manes were beautiful!! I did not shoot a Chamois as I was not interested in them back then. I shot an elk instead. It’s the same as stag-only once. Anyways the wild free range stags on Dry Creek we saw were small but wild as hell and I never could have gotten a shot even if I wanted one-would be a great hunt! I hunted in Africa with Scott Thomson and was the most fun/coolest person I’ve met in all my hunts. His wife runs lodge. He is a longtime outfitter and hunts everything free range or fenced and said he had 500,000 acres with cousins, friends etc. Said he can’t even hunt it all. Might want to check out his website. Scott Thomson Safaris. You can bring everything home in a duffel bag by getting permits in Christchurch. They will mail them to outfitter address $50 bucks. My neighbor just did it with wet capes and horns from stag and chamois in2019. The only bad thing about New Zealand is the way overpriced dip/pack and shipping.to California. Anyway PM and I will tell you everything I know on phone. The outfitters your looking at are good ones also.
Matt
 

Cervus elaphus

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There are very few places that offer Chamois hunting without the use/need for a heli. Jim Gibson's New Zealand Safaris is one of those places. I can't comment positive or negative on any of the 4 you are asking about. Jim is a great guy with stellar reputation and simply amazing areas for stag, fallow, sheep, tahr, and chamois. It cant hurt to check him out along with the others you are considering.
Not all chamois are up in the high country, I have shot them nor far above sea level in North Canterbury. It is the nature of the habitat rather than the altitude. In NZ deer antlers are scored on the Douglas Score.
 

Cervus elaphus

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I can’t comment on the outfitters listed, but I’ve hunted all 3 species there. I don’t think you can go wrong with tahr and chamois if you talk to your outfitter about how you want to hunt. However, I don’t think I will ever hunt a stag in New Zealand behind a fence again. I would go hunting free range stags in roar without hesitation. I saw 3 stag hunting operations there and all seemed nearly identical. There is a major difference in temperament between the big estate stags and wild stags. If your primarily interested in harvesting a huge stag as a trophy you’ll have no shortage of opportunities, from what I saw it’s more selecting the stag you would like inside the size range you can afford. If you are looking for a hard hunting experience, free range is the way to go but the trophy won’t compare to the estate stags. This is my opinion, you can research yourself if you would like, but I think the change in temperament between the estate and wild stags comes from the meat/velvet industry. It’s difficult to keep overly aggressive animals so the characteristics get bred out over time.
Having lived and worked in the South Island countryside, I came across many good stags on private property, some bordering the eastern sea shore. They were living the high life tucked away in the gullies and bush pockets where the good food was, with access to the farmer's crops like turnips and lucerne (alfalfa). Although I carried a rifle for protection from wild cattle I wasn't allowed to shoot stags as these were cropped well before the roar for their velvet. It was deer farming without fences. You're right though, public land doesn't produce the heads they used to.
 

Cervus elaphus

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Hello all. I am new to the forum and beginning some research into a NZ guided hunt. I am looking at a combo for stag, tahr and chamois on the South Island. I have four specific outfitters that I am looking for any first hand experience with, good or bad. For my purposes, assume there are no other options. I have found some reviews on this site and others for two of these, but nothing in the other two. Here are my four:

Gary Herbert’s New Zealand Hunting - Gary Herbert

Cardrona Outfitters

South Pacific Safaris - Brent Harkerss

Exclusive Adventures New Zealand - Shaun Allison

Beyond these four I am looking for anyone who had a poor or negative experience on a NZ guided hunt. If it was not with one of these outfitters, I don’t necessarily need to know the outfitter you were with. I am more interested in what the issue was and what you could have asked / done prior to the trip to mitigate or hash out the negative aspects. Thanks in advance for any responses.
One thing for all hunting visitors to NZ to keep in mind is that the weather can change in the blink of an eye - one moment you're basking in warm sunshine and an hour later it's snowing, more so on the tops. I've been caught out many times and had to head for immediate shelter and always carry a lightweight windproof (and I mean WIND-proof) jacket, some high nutrient snacks and means to start a fire (candle and flint) in a pikau. For the curious, a pikau is a bag with shoulder straps - no frame. They used to be made from sugarbags but today you can get them in soft polafleece material and they are very very quiet when moving through the bush. A small waterproof tent fly in the pikau can keep you dry in an emergency. Sorry if I digress.
 

CBH Australia

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One thing for all hunting visitors to NZ to keep in mind is that the weather can change in the blink of an eye - one moment you're basking in warm sunshine and an hour later it's snowing, more so on the tops. I've been caught out many times and had to head for immediate shelter and always carry a lightweight windproof (and I mean WIND-proof) jacket, some high nutrient snacks and means to start a fire (candle and flint) in a pikau. For the curious, a pikau is a bag with shoulder straps - no frame. They used to be made from sugarbags but today you can get them in soft polafleece material and they are very very quiet when moving through the bush. A small waterproof tent fly in the pikau can keep you dry in an emergency. Sorry if I digress.
Good info, I'm not the OP but I would like to Hunt NZ sometime.

I don't like being cold or wet.

There are a few towns in Australia that get 4 seasons in one day. I avoid them, maybe hunting the are could make them tolerable.
 

Cervus elaphus

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Good info, I'm not the OP but I would like to Hunt NZ sometime.

I don't like being cold or wet.

There are a few towns in Australia that get 4 seasons in one day. I avoid them, maybe hunting the are could make them tolerable.
If in doubt, wait until winter and head up to the Northern Territory for an abundance of game including big fat feisty water buffs (early season), Banteng, wild bulls (they are big buggers too) and lots of grunters with tusks like elephants (slight exaggeration there) and if you want a close encounter of the porkine kind, take the cave boars on with dogs and a knife. But you know all this anyway coming from the big island. I like to hunt Chamois in NZ in winter for their lovely coats, and a bonus if they have a nice pair of horns. Deer in the wild are not hard to find with a good guide or local knowledge, Sika and Sambar deer are a real challenge and feisty enough to fight back. Central North Island for both of these. You can hunt wallabies in the South Island and the trout fishing is outstanding in both islands in season (Tongariro for the winter steelheads)
 
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