History Of Deer Releases In New Zealand

A desire to establish a feeling of  "Home" by our earliest settlers has lead to many a ecological challenge in New Zealand,  the introduction of deer for game animals being a fine example.
Red Deer being the mainstay when hunting in New Zealand today, and the first to be released, selected from managed herds in England and wild Scottish herds they quickly adapted to New Zealand conditions, deer hunting quickly became "free to all" due to increasing deer numbers - herd protection was lifted around 1930, to be followed with Govt funded culling.
This culling led into the "Venison Industry" the export of wild deer meat was a booming industry from 1950 on.
Helicopters and jet boats quickly took over from ground hunting, with the success of the meat exports came a law  change in the 1960s to allow  Deer Farming.
Now the recreational hunter is the main method of deer control.

  • Red Deer :   arrived 1851, released in the Nelson area,  native to Europe, North Africa, Middle East.
  • Fallow Deer : arrived 1864, released Nelson, native to Europe, Middle East.
  • Sika Deer : arrived 1905, released in the Kaimanawa Ranges - Taupo,  native to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Russia, Vietnam, China.
  • Wapiti or North American Elk : arrived 1905, released George Sound - Fiordland.
  • Sambar : arrived 1875, released close to  Rangitikei River - Manawatu,  North island, native to India, Sri Lanka, South-east Asia.
  • Whitetail Deer : arrived 1905, released on Stewart Island and in the Rees valley - North of Lake Wakatipu, native to North and South America.
  • Rusa Deer : arrived 1907, released in the Galatea foothills - Bay Of Plenty, native to South-East Asia.
  • Chamois : arrived 1907, released  near Mt Cook, native to Austria.
  • Tahr : arrived 1904-1909, released near Mt Cook, native Himalayan mountain goat.

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