Wild Pig Hunting in New Zealand

For more information e-mail   Steuart   of NZ Hunting Info Ltd

Pig on the move in tussock and scrub.
Pig bed with a view.
pig bed

History: Pig hunting had its beginnings when European sailors released pigs into New Zealand forests during their voyages of exploration. The liberations by Captain Cook in the 1770s where probably not the first liberations but they were probably the first successful ones. Wild black pigs, supposedly similar to the original stock have become known as Captain Cookers. Today wild pigs come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours as a result of interbreeding over the last couple of hundred years between the original releases and domestic breeds.

Distribution: Populations of wild pigs are found throughout much of New Zealand and local liberations by enthusiastic pig hunters are still taking place further increasing their range. Pig hunters nurture local pig populations and do not necessary kill every pig they capture. Sometimes the ears of the pigs are cut off to make them more difficult to catch. Wild pigs flourish in areas where farmland has reverted to scrubland or where re-growth follows the clearance of forest. Therefore pigs are most common in land covered in gorse, broom, bracken and manuka scrub. Pigs usually don't invade large tracts of native forests and tend to stay in cooee of forest margins although in some areas such as the Waitutu Forest in southern New Zealand, they have moved deep into the forests. Farmers often tolerate wild pigs as long as the wild pig numbers are controlled. But pigs can become a major pest when they interfere with lambing or when they uproot significant areas of pasture. In some places pig populations on the margins of farm lands have become infected with bovine tuberculosis. The potential for the spread of bovine TB into dairy herds has resulted in attempts by the Animal Health Board (AHB) to poison infected wild pigs.

The sport: Wild pig hunting in New Zealand is a significant sport with over 20 000 hunters involved. The many pig hunting clubs around the country organise regular hunting competitions and two dedicated pig hunting magazines support the sport. Some hunters are so keen on pigs that they don't hunt other game such as deer, chamois or tahr. Pig hunting has evolved into an important cultural activity especially in more isolated rural areas of the North Island. One of the features of traditional pig hunting is the sticking of the bailed pig with a knife. This requires some degree of risk on the part of the pig hunter.

These are what real pig hunters use.
pig dog
A couple of pigs caught in the open.

Dogs: Dogs play an important role and vary greatly in their ability to find, bail or hold pigs. As a consequence the breeding, training and management of pig hunting dogs has become an important business. For example, several specialists now offer professional services for the training of pig dogs. Because of the high value of some dogs, they may be fitted with tracking collars worth thousands of dollars. With a tracking system a hunter can locate one or more collared dogs with a hand held device that picks up radio signals from the collared dogs. The use of these tracking systems reduces the likelihood of losing dogs and enables real time monitoring of dogs during a hunt. For protection against boars, pig dogs can be fitted with rip collars or rip vests that vary in size from chest-vests to full-body vests. The stitching of wounded dogs has been simplified with the availability of staplers that quickly close wounds although seriously damaged dogs are sometimes sent to the vet.

Pig hunters carry guns for shooting particularly dangerous pigs. Lever action rifles that fire heavy, lower velocity slugs and shotguns are more commonly used by pig hunters because they tend to have close encounters with short range shots. Successful pig hunting on public land without pig dogs is not a realistic objective for any overseas visitor unless they have tapped into some very good local knowledge. If a hunter stumbles across fresh rooting while hunting other game the area of fresh sign can be revisited at first or last light. The rootings need to be fresh because if the sign is a few days old the pigs might already be miles away.

Pig Hunting Clubs

Bay of Plenty Pig Hunting Club                               P.O. Box 4016, Western Heights, Rotorua.

Coromandel Pig Hunting Club

East Coast Pig Hunting Club

Eastern Pig Hunting Club Inc.

Hawkes Bay Pig Hunting Club                                   PO Box 2377, Stortford Lodge, Hastings 4153

Kai Iwi Pig Hunters Club                                         R.D. 4, 63 Ngarino Rd, Kai Iwi, Wanganui.

Keri Keri Pig Hunting Club

Malborough Pig Hunting Club                                    P.O. Box 310, Blenheim.

Otaua Pig Hunting Club

Rotorua Pig Hunting Club

South Waikato Pig Hunting Club Inc

Te Kuiti Pig Hunting Club                                         P.O. Box 235, Te Kuiti.

Tokoroa Pig Hunting Club                                        P.O. Box 389, Tokoroa.

Wairarapa Pig Hunting Club                                      P.O. Box 268, Masterton.

Whangamomona Pig Hunting Club                             R.D. 26, Stratford, Taranaki.

Whitianga Pig Hunting Club                                      P.O. Box 4, Whitianga.


For more information e-mail   Steuart   of NZ Hunting Info Ltd