Bow Hunting New Zealand

Modern hunters are often drawn to bow hunting because it generally requires more practice and skill than taking game with a firearm

Archers usually take large game within 40 yards (metres) which requires the archer to stalk the game more closely without frightening it away, While modern rifles allow hunters to shoot large game (such as deer or elk) at distances of 100 yards (metres) or more.

The Longbow

The Longbow is one of the earliest forms of bow, the type legends such as Robin Hood made good use of. The Longbow, basically is a bent stick strung tip to tip and uses the force of the reflexed stick to launch the arrow. Long bows are now recognised as the traditional bow and while perhaps not as popular as other forms of bow hunting there is still a small, but strong, group of bow hunters who take on the added challenge to hunt with such a weapon.

The Recurve Bow

The Recurve bow is a modern form of the Longbow, where the last portion of the bow length is curved to provide more flexibility and forward thrust to the arrow. Unlike the Longbow, they are usually made by laminating strips of timber together to form the bow shape. Recurve bows are often made from modern materials such as fibreglass. A Recurve bow is a little easier to use than a Longbow, as with the Longbow there is a strong group of hunters whom regularly take game trophies with a Recurve.

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The Compound Bow

The Compound bow is the most modern form of bow and can take on many shapes and varieties. They typically consist of a more mechanical design incorporating cables and pulleys to enable the hunter to draw back a more forceful bow and launch the arrow at greater speed than a Longbow or Recurve bow. There is a multitude of compound bows on the market each catering for different shooting styles and performance. The compound bow is the most popular hunting bow in New Zealand because of their rugged construction and ease of getting quick and accurate results.

Arrow Types

Along with Bow types you can choose a variety of arrow types. Traditional bow hunters (longbow) typically use wooden arrows, which are specially constructed and chosen for the hunting bow in question. A variety of timbers are used for arrows, with more modern materials such as Fibreglass, Aluminium alloys and carbon fibres along with their various combinations. These are constructed in a variety of sizes to withstand the differing forces exerted on them. In all cases, all arrows should be carefully chosen to suit each bow and its resulting force, otherwise damage to the bow may occur or in more drastic cases gear failure could result in physical harm to the hunter.


Broadheads are the sharp attachment to the end of the arrow that does the cutting of skin, muscle, veins, arteries and vital organs of the animal, causing haemorrhaging and ultimately death. Broadheads come in a multitude of shapes, cutting edges, size and weight. The most important factors are:

  • That it is suitable for the game your hunting
  • To have a Broadheads that are tuned to your bow and arrows
  • Is always razor sharp, ensuring a clean and efficient kill.
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New Zealand Bow Hunting

There are no special seasons for bowhunters or for hunting with a firearm - bow hunting is available year-round. A separate license is required for hunting gamebirds, obtainable through the Fish and Game Council New Zealand. It covers the whole of New Zealand. Some regulations exist:

The use of arrows with any poison, explosives, or other chemical substances on, or in the head or shaft is prohibited.

All other conditions such as may appear on the standard hunting permit apply also to bowhunters.

Bowhunting is extremely challenging and rewarding. For many it has been a life long source of challenge and enjoyment, for others new to the sport, it opens up a whole new avenue to hunting not previously thought of.

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