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NZ Game Bird Species

New Zealand is home to a range of game birds, each with their own particular characteristics and preferences. Early European settlers introduced 25 different species of waterfowl and 29 species of upland gamebirds to New Zealand for hunting. Only four species of waterfowl established, and of the upland gamebirds, only Californian Quail, Brown Quail, Chukor and Pheasant remain in huntable populations.

The full list of New Zealand gamebirds declared to be game (as set out in the First Schedule of the Wildlife Act 1953) can be found here.

Information on the hunting status of Canada geese (following the species being removed from the First Schedule of the Wildlife Act 1953) can be found here.

Fish & Game New Zealand, including all persons hunting game birds in NZ, have a responsibility to understand and manage the welfare of each species for future generations to enjoy. Understanding even a little about the behaviour of individual species can make hunting significantly more successful.

Waterfowl (Ducks & Swans)

Fish & Game NZ staff count waterfowl populations and evaluate their habitat each year. This allows gamebird seasons and limits to be set to protect the future of New Zealand waterfowl.


The New Zealand native Pukeko is a large, blue-purplish, wetlands dwelling bird. Pukeko are held in rueful affection by New Zealanders, with a reputation as a friendly, cheeky bird.

Protected Species (not hunted)

There are three key waterfowl species which are protected, and therefore not hunted, in New Zealand:

Upland Game Birds

Upland game hunting is a different ball game to waterfowl hunting. This exciting and challenging pastime requires different techniques and often plenty of walking!