There is only one true free-ranging wild herd of Wapiti in New Zealand, descended from Rocky Mountain Elk released in 1905. These animals were released into Fiordland, the most south western tip of the South Island. During the early 1900s, this herd produced some amazing trophies in the 400” class.This herd has slowly been contaminated by red deer, and the remaining animals are a unique hybrid — the “New Zealand Wapiti.” This interbreeding, combined with mismanagement and over-hunting, has been detrimental to the trophy quality of this unique herd.
Elk Hunting New Zealand
The hunting of these animals is now controlled by the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation (FWF), who have split the wapiti area into blocks and run a ballot(draw) to hunt these areas over the bugle. The FWF also runs culling operations in an effort to reduce red deer numbers within the wapiti range and keep the overall deer population in balance. We are starting to see the work the FWF has done with improvements in the trophy potential of this herd. The FWF has done an amazing job of managing this herd and the quality of the animals is getting better all the time. But they will always be hybrids, and that will never change.
Hunting Fiordland is the Kiwi’s ultimate challenge.
The terrain is daunting at best, with steep fiords, impenetrable native forest, and rain that you wouldn’t believe (200-600 inches a year)! There are a few guides here that will take hunters into this area after wapiti, but being successful in the ballot is difficult and getting a ballot period where the weather is good, even harder. Many outfitters here do offer wapiti hunts in their game parks.
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