New Zealand’s Finest Free-Range Tahr Hunt
By Simon Guild.
Most hunters visiting New Zealand for the first time will be after one primary trophy – the Red Stag. But close behind the mighty stag in the iconic New Zealand species stakes is the Himalayan Bull Tahr. Plenty has been written about the tahr and it needn’t be repeated here, but it goes without saying that a free-range, foot hunt for a Bull Tahr is up there with the Mountain Goat and Dall Sheep in terms of difficulty and achievement.
Visiting Lake Heron Station to Hunt for Tahr
Last week, I had the privilege of visiting Lake Heron Station with a view to checking out what I had heard was the finest free-range foot hunting for tahr anywhere in New Zealand. The property has only recently opened up access to international hunters and with these people in mind, I was not disappointed. For a start, Lake Heron is huge – 50,000 acres, over three times the size of Manhattan Island. The terrain is truly vast with the valley rising from an elevation of 2000 feet to over 9000 feet at the top of the permanently-glaciated Arrowsmith Range. It’s the highest and most rugged privately-owned terrain in New Zealand and the result is a literal tahr paradise. Sunny, eastern facing slopes and sheltered creeks hold good numbers of nannies that, in season, the sought-after bulls make a bee-line toward.
Nanny tahr grazing on scrub at around 4000 feet.
An incredible, uniquely New Zealand Tahr Hunt
Philip Todhunter, who with his wife Anne owns Lake Heron, took me on a 3000 vertical-foot hike through the tahr country. Starting at the beautifully refurbished New Hut, we hiked the Rocky Gorge where we spotted numerous nannies and kids in the high bluffs above the creeks and on the open tops. . Walter Speck, a highly respected hunting guide who helps the Todhunters manage the tahr hunting, walked the northern end of the range and spotted a number of bulls good enough to get the heart rate up in any tahr hunter. The animals were healthy, the feed plentiful and we were quite literally the only people for miles.
The superbly restored New Hut, originally built in the 1920s.
So what makes the Tahr hunting at Lake Heron so good?
Well, I have already talked about the habitat, which is second to none, but the main reason the experience is so good is all about game management. The population is carefully controlled to maximise trophy quality and hunting opportunities, and as a result there are only 10 hunts offered each season. This makes a Lake Heron Tahr Hunt a rare and premium experience that rewards those prepared to get fit and book ahead.
Luckily for us, High Peak has exclusive access to the tahr hunting at Lake Heron and for those hunters up to the challenge, we are incredibly excited to be able to offer an experience that few, if any, can replicate.
There are many ways to hunt a tahr in New Zealand – behind wire, from a helicopter or on foot; on public or private land. If you want to get your bull tahr the way Kiwis do, on a place that very few can, the Lake Heron experience will deliver all that and so much more.
Hunters – it’s over to you.