Exclusive Adventures New Zealand is a high-end hunting, fishing and adventure company based in Wanaka, a small picturesque town nestled seductively close to the stunning Southern Alps of New Zealand’s South Island.
Owners, Shaun Allison and Ben Ferguson, are devoted hunters, fishermen and entertainers. They thrive on sharing adventures with new people and creating life long memories while doing what they love.
Shaun and Ben started Exclusive Adventures in 2011 as a way to share their passion and knowledge with people from all around the world. With access to the best hunting and fishing locations New Zealand has to offer, coupled with the exclusive use of the finest lodgings and professional staff, they pride themselves on providing guests with a safe, successful and unforgettable adventure.
With over 20 years collective experience in the hunting and fishing industry, Shaun and Ben offer personalized packages for each individual client to create their ultimate adventure. Exclusive Adventures will take care of all the details and can organize equipment, accommodation and travel arrangements to ensure a relaxing and enjoyable trip before, during and after the adventure.
Brendan Burns and I booked a hunt with Shaun to backpack hunt for Tahr, Chamois, and Red Stag in the very rugged Southern Alps. We hunted May 17th -27th, the peak of the rut and the middle of Fall in New Zealand.
The West side of the Southern Island has average rainfall in excess of 30 feet per year, making it one of the wettest places on earth. New Zealand has a very unique climate mostly because it is made up of essentially two large islands and weather comes in very quickly out of Antarctica across the Tasman Sea and slams into the Southern Alps that rise up straight out of the ocean to over 12,000 ft.
New Zealand is very unique climate and creates a very dynamic range of habitat that rises straight from the ocean and beach,into rain forest and straight up to above timberline and glaciers and rock.
San Francisco to Aukland is 6,535 miles. I was surprised to find direct flights from Los Angles and San Francisco as low as $1,000 round trip. The flight time is just over 11 hours. Most flights leave at night and you arrive in the morning. Dinner, a movie and fall asleep and you are literally there. It was easier and significantly cheaper to get to there than I ever expected.
Shaun picked Brendan and I up in Queenstown, a very nice resort town on the Southern Island. We headed to The Oxbow Lodge, which is not quite what we would all refer to as a “Lodge”. The Oxbow is absolutely first class, from the facilities, view and the owners, Lloyd and Julie Fergerson, who are exceptional hosts, incredibly generous and make you feel very welcomed.
After the lobster and roast for dinner, which was amazing, we began gear prep we and headed to bed.
Day – 2
We were up early the next morning and drove to the West side of the Island to meet up with Shaun’s good friend and Guide, Bruce Barnes.
Bruce is a quite simply a living legend. He has lead a life of adventure from mountaineering, white water kayaking, to dedicated light weight Mountain Hunting. He has Kayaked all over the world and discovered the West Coast of New Zealand as an international white water Kayaking location by doing 17 of the first descents. He is an instructor for mountaineering, kayaking, hiking, rock climbing and more ,with an average of 120 nights a year spent in a tent.
His life time of hunting the mountains with the bow makes him extremely knowledgeably about the game and the behaviors. Combine this with his unmatched mountain experience, enjoyable character, and safety makes him invaluable professional hunter for Exclusive Adventures New Zealand.
We loaded up our gear and food for 4 days into the Hughes 500, and flew into a wilderness area that allowed us to land only at a designated landing spot for the helicopter.
We loaded up our packs and began heading south up a long ridge and then over a high pass that would take us into the next drainage where we would set camp and hunt for the next couple of days.
We set up our tents in small draw just below a large ridge, unloaded our supplies and set off to glass for Tahr.
We are hunting the peak of the rut and it did not take long before we located a bull with nannies in a basin 700 yards across from us. We set up the scopes to get a closer look at the bull.
“Hey Mate, that is a good Shaggy at least 12 inches,” Shaun and Bruce pointed out. Brendan, who is a sensitive guy, looked at me and said “he is all yours”. I did not argue because I never pass up a good opportunity on the first day or two of a hunt.
The stalk was on. Shaun and I took a round about approach to get the wind and elevation and coverage at the top end of the drainage. We dropped down the drainage and over a small ridge getting us to 137 yards from the Bull.
“Hey Mate, he is a good one” advised Shaun, “…take him!” The Boswell 300 WSM hit him through the front shoulder and he was down. It was a fantastic stalk and set up by Shaun on a REALLY good bull. What a start to the hunt!
After photos, field dressing and a long climb out of the basin, we arrived to camp after dark and in a heavy rainstorm.
Day – 3
We were up before first light, but fogged in with a light drizzle still falling. We piled under Bruce’s Sil-Nylon tarp and sat out the fog drinking coffee and telling hunting stories.
After a couple of hours, the fog lifted and we headed down the ridge below camp to glass for Tahr and Chamois and we spotted a couple of groups of Tahr on a distant mountain across a huge drainage.
We made a very steep and technical side-hill across an almost vertical face of shale, rocks and hummocks to get to the Tahr for the evening hunt. This was an incredible test for the new KUIU Zamberlan Boots I was wearing. They really shined in this steep country giving me a secure platform on an insecure mountainside.
The Southern Alps are the steepest and most technical mountains I have hunted. The terrain is very steep, unstable and the hummock-covered slopes are incredibly dangerous. If you slip and fall on the wet hummocks it is almost impossible to stop. We all carried Ice Axes, trekking poles and Crampons the entire hunt. Every step had to be carefully placed and secured. It made this hunt a very good mental and physical test.
The evening hunts are very productive in the rut. Bull Tahr, or “shaggy”, chase and posture nannies. Bulls have a thick long coat of hair that they “fluff” up to make them look as big as possible. Big bulls are significantly larger than Nannies and look up to 4 times larger when rutting and fluffing up.
As the evening approached, we located several groups of Tahr with nice bulls and a couple of real good ones according to Shaun and Bruce. We found a very respectable bull below us with a group of nannies in a very approachable spot for a stalk. It was Brendan’s turn.
We quickly closed the 700 yards down to 100 yards. The stalk put us on the edge of a cliff looking directly into the small basin we last saw the Tahr. The fog had rolled in and we could not see 25 yards in front of us and the waiting game continued for almost 30 minutes. Finally the fog began to lift and there they were, two bulls and eight Nannies. Shaun told Brendan to take the larger bull located above the herd.
The bull was down immediately from a well-placed shot through the shoulder.
On the hike back to camp we spotted Tahr above us in the rocks and cliffs with the night was fast approaching we only watched them in the spotting scope before our 2 hour climb back to camp.
To Be Continued………………
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