Rusa in New Zealand

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

Rusa in Galatea foothills.
rusa hind

In 1908 rusa (Cervus timorensis) were successfully established in New Zealand via New Caledonia using stock that probably originated from Java. Outside of their natural range in the Indonesian archipelago, rusa are also found in Mauritius, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia and Australia.
In NZ rusa occupy about 500 sq. km, a smaller area than any other introduced deer species. Compare this for example with the 6000 sq km occupied by sika.

The largest population is found around Galatea and a smaller population in the headwaters of the Whakatane River.

see map

Even though DOC administers most of these areas access remains difficult. The rusa hunting land adjacent to the Galatea plains is blocked by farms. Along the twenty kilometers or so of rusa country there are four or five legal points of entry. Once reached the terrain is difficult being steep and covered in scrub.
The upper Whakatane country is not so precipitous but it is isolated and a days walk from any direction. Many rusa hunters fly in by helicopter to hunt around the Hanamahihi clearings on the Whakatane River.

Of the New Zealand wild deer, rusa are one of the more difficult to hunt. The success rate hunting rusa is about half that of red deer.
They are a tropical deer and are not designed for cold climates. The most productive hunting of rusa is in the winter during the rut when on cold days animals are drawn to sunny clearings in the bush. These clearings are staked out by hunters in the hope that one these elusive animals will show itself. The shot is often a long one. Traditional bush stalking of rusa is notoriously difficult in contrast to the bush stalking of sika and red deer which can be hunted successfully in this manner.
Estimates put the total population of rusa in New Zealand at about 1000 animals.

The 100 rusa farmed on a Galatea property probably make up the only captive herd in NZ. There are no guided hunts on Safari Parks/Game Estates for rusa although guided operation offer rusa hunting within the Ureweras.


NZ rusa trophies are inferior to trophies produced overseas. Some NZ hunters travel to New Caledonia to hunt rusa because of the easier terrain and the larger trophies found there. There are rare recorded cases of atypical antlers from New Zealand and it is hypothesised that hybridisation may occur between sambar and rusa.

Best NZ Rusa head

Douglas Score 235.(Controversy remains over the hybrid status of a this head).
c.f. Australia 226 5/8 and New Caledonia 243 3/4.
The difficulty of obtaining a rusa trophy by conventional hunting methods is underscored by the fact that three of the top five NZ trophies were taken with the aid of dogs or spotlight.

Antler Cast


Antler Hardening





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