Your Rifle in New Zealand

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

How to bring your rifle

NZ deer rifles big & small
Image of .308 and .223 rifles

In order to bring a rifle into New Zealand you must already have a Firearms Licence in your own country. Your firearms must comply with New Zealand regulations.  see Police Approved Firearms
In advance of your flight to New Zealand, you should;
1. Download and fill out   Police Form ("Visitors Firearms Licence and Permit to Import Firearms")
2. Fax it to the New Zealand Police at the intended airport of your arrival.
      Christchurch International Airport Police    Fax 0064 33718071
      Auckland International Airport Police       Fax 0064 92560486
This will enable the police to prepare the documents before you arrive.

Airport Customs

When you are in the airport terminal;
1. Declare your firearms to New Zealand Customs Officials.
2. Get your papers processed by the airport Police. The Customs officials will direct you to the airport Police on sighting your documents.
You should emerge from the Police Office with a "Visitors Firearms Licence and Permit to Import Firearms" document, and your firearms.
(Check the baggage carousel for your guns in case the airline staff have not removed them.)
The process should take about 15 minutes and will cost NZ$25.

Suitable Rifles

I have kept opinion out of this web site but I will say something about rifles for hunting in New Zealand.
Calibres with performances like that of the 7mm Mauser (7 x 57 mm), .270, 7mm/08, .308, and the 30-06 are the best for all round hunting in New Zealand. These calibres will effectively kill the bigger game such as stags and boars. The best selling rifles in New Zealand sports shops are .308, .270, 7mm/08, .243 and .223. Larger calibres are unnecessary and smaller calibres increase the chance of losing an animal. The .243 & .223, while superb performers in the right hands, are too light for all round hunting.

Some hunters who argue that theslighter calibres are fine for deer. I disagree. I rever to John Kingsley-Heath's book "Hunting the Dangerous Game of Africa" to illustrate the point that, while light rifles can be used to shoot anything, this doesn't mean they are a sensible choice for recreational hunters. Kingsley-Heath shot elephants with many different rifles. The rifle with the most grunt was the .500 Jeffrey Rimless. He used a 535 grain projectile at muzzle velocity of 2400fps and muzzle energy of 6800 foot pounds. (nosebleed specifications) The lightest rifle he used was a .243 Winchester with a 100 grain projectile at muzzle velocity of 2900fps and muzzle energy of 1868 foot pounds. The target was a two inch square ear hole and the elephants dropped instantly. From this example you cannot say that the .243 Winchester is a suitable elephant rifle.

Light Calibres

Like many hunters living in British Commonwealth countries, I began with an ex-army .303. This rifle was superceded by a Tikka .308. More lately I purchased a .223, a rifle suitable for my children. They successfully shot wallaby, goats, chamois and red deer with the .223. However, over a period of about two years I wounded more red deer with that .223 than I had in the previous ten years using the .308. You can read about professional meat shooters using light rifles for red deer hunting but I think that recreational hunters should leave them on the shelf. A key disadvantage with lighter rifles is the fact that they often don't leave an exit wound. It is fine to say that all the energy of the projectile is used in the animal. But if it runs away the blood trail is usually difficult to follow.

Any of these will knock over any New Zealand game.
commonly used game cartridges
The .300 magnum at left can deliver a 150g projectile at over 3000ft/sec. Impressive.
commonly used game cartridges

One particular hunting scenario repeated itself too many times. This was the situation when a deer was chest shot (with the .223) and collapsed, only to leap up and escape. It was as if the .223 has some kind of shocking capability that temporarily incapacitates the wounded animal. At least a larger calibre, if it didn't kill the deer, would have left an exit wound and allowed the hunter to successfully track it for the coup de grace. You can argue against underkill and wounding animals but overkill is entirely up to the hunter, his wallet, his shoulder and his ears. The animal probably won't mind.

The magazine 'RifleShooter' Vol 10 Issue 6, ran an article titled '.243 Winchester' by Layne Simpson. I agree with most of what the author says about the family of 6 mm rifles. Simpson says the following when discussing deer shooting with the .243,
'I am convinced that most failures of the .243 to get the job done in the field are due not to cartridge performance but to pilot error and possibly use of the wrong bullet.'
You can say this about most cartridges. My point would be that we all make errors in placing shots, so logically the .243 is not as suitable as some of the larger cartridges. The author redeems himself to some extent when he says at the end of his article,
'... the odds of recovering a wounded deer at the end of a blood trail are better if a more powerful cartridge such as the .270 Winchester or .30-06 is used.'

To add muzzle velocity to the suggestion that the .243 is not a suitable New Zealand rifle "Nick Harvey's Handbook for Hunters and Shooters" includes the following comment;
"A bullet such as the 100gn .243 which will drop in its tracks a small deer or feral goat or pig weighing on the hoof about 140 to 200lbs will seldom knock a sambar deer down and would hardly make an eland flinch. Instead, the eland would probably run off quite a long way and then lie down and die slowly." (p138)
But it has been said before that in the end it is the caliber of the man which is important and not the caliber of the rifle.

Available Ammo

The following deer hunting cartridges can be readily purchased in sports stores in the main cities of Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Other larger deer hunting cartridges are also available but it may take a day for the retailer to source the rarer cartridges from the wholesale ammunition suppliers.
In order to purchase ammunition you must present your current firearms licence, or in the case of a visitor, your visitors firearms licence. In no circumstances will a retailer supply ammunition without sighting the licence.

Hunting Catridges Readily Available in New Zealand Hunting Stores
Cartridge Name Lands Grooves Year Origin of Cartridge Name
.222 Rem.219.2241950Cartridge of original design and original name.
.22-250 Rem .219.2241965250 Savage necked down to .22 hence "-250"
.223 Rem .219.2241964Cartridge named .223 to differentiate from .222
.223 WSM .219.2242002Winchester Short Magnum. Based on .404 Jeffery
.223 WSSM .219.2242003Winchester Super Short Magnum. Based on .404 Jeffery
5.56 x 45mm Nato .219.2241950sThe Military .223. Small differences in specs to sporting .223 Rem
.220 Swift .219.2241935Name refers to muzzle velocity. First factory load to hit 4000ft/sec.
.240 Wthby .237.2431968Necked down and belted .300 H&H
.243 Win .237.2431965Named after groove diameter of barrel
.243 WSSM .237.2432003Winchester Super Short Magnum. Based on .404 Jeffery
.250 Savage .250.2571914.250 caliber. Formerly called 250-3000 capable of 3000ft/sec.
.257 Roberts .250.25719347 x 57mm necked down with 15 degree shoulder angle
.257 Wthby .250.2571940sNecked down .300 H&H Magnum
25-06 Rem .250.256196930-06 necked down to .25 hence"-06"
.260 Rem .256.2641997Probably a marketing ploy to simplify to a rounded number.
6.5 x 55 Swed Mau .256.2641893First adopted as military cartridge by Norway & Sweden
6.5 Rem Mag .256.2641966First short case magnum. Necked down version of 350 Rem Magnum
.270 Win .270.277192530-06 necked down to .270. Named after bore diameter.
.270 WSM .270.2772001Winchester Short Magnum. Based on .404 Jeffery
.270 Wthby .270.2771945Necked down, shortened and bloated 300 H&H Magnum
.280 Rem .277.2841957Probably a marketing ploy to simplify to a rounded number.
.284 Win .277.2841963Named from groove diameter
7 x 57 Mauser .277.2841892Developed by Mauser for Spanish Military
7 x 64 Brenneke .277.2841918Developed by Wilhelm Brenneke. Almost identical to .280 Rem
7mm WSM .277.2842002Winchester Short Magnum. Based on .404 Jeffery
7mm WSSM .277.2842002Winchester Super Short Magnum. Based on .404 Jeffery
7mm STW .277.2841983Named after Shooting Times Westerner magazine
7mm-08 Rem .277.2841980.308 necked down to 7mm hence "-08"
7mm Rem Magnum .277.2841962Necked up .264 Winchester Magnum
7mm Wthby .277.2841940sBased on a shortened .300 H&H Magnum
.300 Rem U.M. .300.3081999Name says it all. 150g at over 3500 ft/sec. Based on .404 Jeffery
30-06 Springfield .300.3081906Adopted by US Military 1906 hence "-06" (7.62 x 63)
.308 Win .300.3081952Named after groove diameter. 7.62 Nato. (7.62 x 51)
.300 Wthby .300.3081963Based on .300 H&H. Distinctive double radius shoulder
.300 Win Magnum .300.3081963Developed for big game & used as a sniper rifle.
.300 WSM .300.3082001Winchester Short Magnum. Based on 404 Jeffery non-belted magnum
.30-30 Win .300.3081895Originally .30 caliber loaded with 30g of new smokeless powder.
.30 M1 Carbine .300.3081940Name alludes to military use.
7.62 x 54R .300.3081891Russian Military cartridge (R designates rimmed).
7.62 x 39 Soviet .300.3081943Country of origin.
.303 British .303.3111889British military rifle. WWI, WWII
8 x 57S (JS) .3231905"S" German for spitzgeschloss a pointed spitzer bullet

In North America smokeless cartridges were named after their bore diameter and the company that introduced them. This is how the .270 Winchester (1925) for example was named. In the 1950's it became fashionable to name cartridges after the groove (or bullet) diameter which is how the .308 Winchester (.300 caliber cartridge by bore diameter), .243, and .284 were named.
In Europe, cartridges have generally been named after their bore diameter and their case length in millimeters.
In the above table, year for the introduction of the cartridge often refers to the year of its commercial production. The cartridge may have long been in use by enthusiasists.

The following brands of sporting ammunition are freely available in New Zealand.
Winchester, Remington, Norma, Lapua, P.M.C., Highlander, P.M.P., Magtech, S.& B., Rio, Federal, Hornady, Weatherby, Eley, Gamebore, Ballantine, Sako, Falcon, Fiocchi, R.W.S., Black Hills, Wolf (Tula), Norinco, Stirling.

.22-250 Rem, .223 Rem, .223 WSM, .223 WSSM, 5.56 x 45mm Nato, .220 Swift, .240 Wthby, .243 Win, .243 WSSM, .250 Savage, .257 Roberts, .257 Wthby, 25-06 Rem, .260 Rem, 6.5 x 55 Swed Mau, 6.5 Rem Mag, .270 Win, .270 WSM, .270 Wthby, .280 Rem, .284 Win, 7 x 57 Mauser, 7 x 64 Brenneke, 7mm WSM, 7mm WSSM, 7mm STW, 7mm-08 Rem, 7mm Rem Magnum, 7mm Wthby, .300 Rem U.M., 30-06 Springfield, .308 Win, .300 Wthby, .300 Win Magnum, .300 WSM, .30-30 Win, .30 M1 Carbine, 7.62 x 54R, 7.62 x 39 Russian, .303 British, 8 x 57S (JS), 8 x 64.


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