Archives For Hunting

DOC Ranger, Norm Macdonald, writes about removing the last remaining deer from Secretary Island, in Fiordland—creating a haven for vulnerable native species.

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By Andy Thompson, Technical Advisor Recreation, Christchurch

As a passionate hunter I love exploring our backcountry—so much country, so little time!

Hunting tahr up the mighty Rakaia River.

Hunting tahr up the mighty Rakaia River

The backcountry—its huts and tracks—are our inheritance.

For me, the places where I first took my kids on an overnight tramp, and where they shot their first deer or chamois, are ingrained into my character and our family’s folklore. It’s a legacy I want my grandkids and their grandkids to have.

Andy Thompson's family on the Kepler Track.

A day walk with the family at the bottom on the Kepler Track

I’m also one of the lucky DOC staff working with the New Zealand Outdoor Recreation Consortium, who are keen to look after and maintain New Zealand’s backcountry facilities.

The consortium is a partnership between the Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand, New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association and Trail Fund NZ.

Reischek Hut.

The great wee Reischek Hut in Canterbury

My heroes are the people that go on major missions, who use these places and then choose, in their spare time, to put something back.

Andy Thompson's family on the Hollyford Track.

Whānau and friends on the Hollyford Track

This isn’t about DOC shedding its responsibilities to look after backcountry huts, this is about doing more and looking after the places where many of us spend our holidays and weekends and enrich our lives.

Stanley Vale Hut.

One of my favourite places and backcountry huts—Stanley Vale in the St James Conservation Area

So, if you’re a tramper, hunter, mountain biker, 4WDer, horse rider, caver, kayaker, mountaineer or more, and want to find out what we’re up to come check out the New Zealand Outdoor Recreation Consortium website.

Moss Thompson looks out over the Mt Sommers Walkway.

Moss Thompson looks out over the Mt Sommers Walkway

By Don Herron, Wellington Visitor Centre Ranger

We are spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful rivers in New Zealand so, if you’re looking for a different way to see New Zealand’s magnificent backcountry, why not spend the day swimming down one?

Floating on the Ohau River. Photo: Don Herron.

Enjoying the view from the Ohau River

The Ohau river system on the western side of Tararua Forest Park makes for a perfect summer trip—walk up the track (above the Ohau Gorge), visit a cool hut for lunch, then swim down the river back to the road end.

Walking in the Ohau River with pack on. Water almost up to shoulders.

Time for a swim

The track starts at Poads Road end (via Gladstone Road) behind Levin.

It follows the Ohau Gorge until the start of the track on Gable End Ridge. Here you can either head up the hill to Waiopehu Hut, or down to the Ohau River (a much better option on a hot summer’s day).

Map of the region.

Map of the region

A short walk up the river (no compulsory swims, only wet boots) takes you to the North and South Ohau rivers.

Northern Ohau River junction.

Northern Ohau River junction

Here, you head up the North Ohau River for a couple of hours—through some tight spots over some big boulders—to find North Ohau Hut.

North Ohau Hut.

North Ohau Hut

This small 4 bunk hut is situated on some lovely grassy flats above the river. It’s a great place for an overnighter and is popular with hunters. However, for us, it was our lunch spot.

Heading home is the best part of this trip, because you can find all the deep spots in the river and have a swim.

Wading in.

Wading in

The North Ohau River is a bit too small for really big swims, but it’s still deep enough to get really nice and wet.

Ohau River.

Ohau River

Once we floated down to the North and South Ohau rivers we continued down the Ohau River until we came to the head of the Gorge.

Instead of heading back up onto the track we continued down the river. This is where the real swimming begins—with beautiful deep swimming holes, which are too deep to touch the bottom, and water so clear you could see all the individual rocks of the river floor.

Get your feet wet!

Get your feet wet!

Whenever you do a gorge trip there is one thing that is compulsory: bombs! Unless you jump off the rocks and try and make the biggest splash you are not a true gorger!

After numerous long swims, lots of bombs and splashing about we were back at the road end, very happy and very wet after spending a great summer’s day in one of New Zealand’s beautiful backcountry rivers.

This trip is recommended for experienced trampers and confident swimmers only. 

Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans. You can use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the Adventure Smart website to do this. It is endorsed by New Zealand’s search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.