Hunters in New Zealand are extremely excited about this year’s roar. The 2020 roar was ruined by the level 4 lockdown, however that means there are a lot of extremely promising stags that have had another year to mature. The result will be a lot of high-quality animals around and that could mean some outstanding hunting opportunities.

The Game Animal Council encourages hunters to get out there and enjoy this year’s roar and the incredible hunting it will provide. However, with a lot of hunters and non-hunters out in the bush at this time of year the roar period does present a heightened level of risk. Taking the necessary precautions is absolutely critical to having a safe and successful trip. Here are some basic tips to make sure you are ‘roar ready’:

  1. Plan where you are going to hunt and how long you will be out for.
  2. Make sure you have a hard copy 1:50,000 topographical map (and compass) to supplement any mapping apps you may use on your phone.
  3. Check the long range weather forecast and plan your trip accordingly. DOC have recently formed a partnership with NIWA and have developed a new weather forecasting tool, that may be of use to many hunters. You can access it here.
  4. Leave your intentions, including where you are going and when you plan to get out, with a reliable contact.
  5. Give your gear (including your first aid kit) a thorough check and repair/replace anything that needs it.
Make good decisions
  1. Carry a personal locator beacon or EPIRB, test it to make sure the battery still works and make sure it is registered at
  2. Consider the use of a satellite phone or inreach for communicating with the outside world.
  3. Respect the dynamic environment you are hunting in. Weather can change quickly and river levels can rise fast. Be prepared to wait out a swollen river or storm system.
  4. Be respectful of other hunting parties and other backcountry users and share the landscape appropriately.
Firearms safety
  1. Identify your target carefully and beyond all doubt.
  2. Treat every firearm as loaded.
  3. If sharing a firearm make sure the person carrying it maintains responsibility for checking it is unloaded and safe.
  4. Wear high-vis or blaze clothing. Orange blaze is extremely vivid to fellow hunters yet deer do not pick up the colour so wearing it will not hamper your chances of taking that big stag.

The Mountain Safety Council has some useful hunting safety videos here.


We are all crossing our fingers that COVID-19 lockdowns and elevated alert levels don’t interfere with this year’s roar. However, no matter what happens we all need to follow the rules and do the right thing.

Hunting is allowed with very few restrictions under levels 1 and 2. However, under level 3 the rules are far more stringent:

  1. You can hunt on both private and public conservation land.
  2. You need to stay within your region and stick to your bubble.
  3. Overnight trips are not allowed.
  4. You may only hunt on foot — using quad bikes, off-road bikes, helicopters and other motorised vehicles is not allowed.
  5. You cannot stay in DOC huts or campgrounds under Alert Level 3 and hunting must also be consistent with the usual local area restrictions.

Please keep up to date with the latest COVID-19 alert level notifications at