My Deer Woods and Trout Streams Are Getting Crowded

Opinion by Tony Orman

All anglers who fish the Clinton and Worsley rivers must obtain a backcountry endorsement. Only Adult Whole Season, Family, Loyal Senior, Non-resident Whole Season and Local Area licence holders are eligible for a Backcountry endorsement. The concept is to help manage angling pressure on the Clinton and Worsley rivers, with a fortnightly ballot operates throughout the sports fishing season (1 November-31 May).
Fishing pressure? People cause fishing pressure. The more people, the greater the fishing pressure.
Many years go, it was exceptionally rare to meet another angler on wilderness streams and rivers.
It’s  a sign of the times or should I say of the number of people, i.e. 5 million in New Zealand. 
“It’s an ill-wind that blows nobody any good,” is an old saying. It so often is true. The covid19 virus lockdown has been a great thing for growing problems like crowded trout rivers as in recent years the influx of international fly fishers from Australia, USA and other countries has become such a problem that local anglers in areas like Southland have protested strongly and loudly publicly. The border lockdown will this season prevent outsiders coming in.
Hunting has seen the same pressures. A number of my North Island hunter friends, of decades of experience, no longer will risk hunting in the autumn particularly so in the central North Island.
The source of the increased hunters is not hard to find with Auckland’s conurbation bursting at the seams with ever increasing people growth. Hamilton and Tauranga sprawl outwards with more and more people.

, My Deer Woods and Trout Streams Are Getting Crowded
<c> Solitude on trout streams is getting harder to find with increasing numbers of people

Fifty years ago, stark warnings were delivered both internationally and in New Zealand. 
Controversial author USA Paul Erlich warned about the people crisis in his book “The Population Bomb” published in 1968 – almost half a century ago. And in New Zealand about the same time, environmentalists  such as “Save Manapouri” conservationist and New Zealand Deerstalkers Association president John B Henderson were warning “surely we cannot argue for there being any virtue in further proliferating the hordes of humanity?”
Five Million?
Five million is significant for John Henderson in 1970 said “it is high time New Zealanders set themselves an upper limit — I have no hesitation in tabling my own estimate – it is 5 million people.” We’ve passed that mark.
Google NZ population clock – 5,094,488 people as at Tuesday, 03 Nov 2020. New Zealand’s population is estimated to increase by one person every 17 minutes.
But New Zealand still has no population policy. Government pursues growth with a maniacal passion and no control. “Maximum growth – more people” is the mantra. Isn’t it past time for a Ministry of Population and Planning?
I mentioned John B Henderson calling for a population limit of 5 million. By coincidence John was my mentor in deerstalking trips into the Tararuas when in the late 1950s I was an inexperienced greenhorn. He taught me dry fly fishing on the north Wairarapa brown trout rivers. We poked into areas of the Tararuas that probably hadn’t been visited since the early pioneering surveyors such as Morgan Carkeek about 1900.
Nobody for Yonks
John recalled in an interview I printed in my book “The Sport In Fishing” (published 1979), “ I remember —poking into some areas of the Tararuas that were just positions on the map. To meet wildlife in that setting – adult stags would be sniffing only a few metres away. You knew if you weren’t the first man in those valleys, then nobody had been there for a long, long time.”
I did one trip with him into one of those secluded valleys code-named “Hokey”. The deer in creek beds just stood and gawked at us from a hundred metres away and only trotted off when we were just 25 metres away. We sat on the tops admiring 14 big red deer stags just 100 metres away, prior to the roar, basking in the warmth of the late afternoon sunshine.
Technology has ruined that too. There were no helicopters then, no air borne shooters indiscriminately shooting deer.
Those sorts of unique magical experiences have largely disappeared with more people. Those opportunities will be less and less unless—-.
If we have deer woods and trout streams  crowded more and more by people with just 5 million people, what will it be like with 10 million living n New Zealand?

, My Deer Woods and Trout Streams Are Getting Crowded

<c> Deer  just stood and gawked at us

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11 Responses to My Deer Woods and Trout Streams Are Getting Crowded

  1. Alan says:

    Well said Tony…Bang on..

  2. Bud jones JonesQSM says:

    So true Tony, I know intimately these places from my 50 years exploring the great Tararua montains & valleys

  3. Graham Elwell says:

    Yep Overpopulation is not good news for Outdoor Sports in NZ we need to slow down ASAP with Migration ? Where will their Kids actually find employment with Robotics taking over in all areas ! //// In future many of those Kids will go “Pot Hunting” with little income & looking for a free Feed ? so all wild game , native fauna & fisheries will take a huge hit, constant 7 Days a week with no let up . ///// I often wonder that NZ was never meant to have too many people in the first place, as our environment is so fragile! /// Anyway Top Marks Tony Orman for being on the case .

  4. Rob McMillan says:

    Tony’s words are so true, and timely. I now know I was so fortunate to have been growing up in the post-World War II years when I was able to get a ton of target shooting experience with school cadets and the army. Although a year too young at 15, in 1948 I was able to get some fleeting hunting experience within a few miles of home in South Canterbury. By the next year, with quite a struggle on my part, I legally owned a good quality new hunting rifle. I largely dropped fly fishing and spent every minute I could hunting. There was a ton of good game in reasonable reach and the advice and experience and companionship of my father and many others, mostly older than me. Fortunately I was able to enjoy hunting almost all my life and have a little regret that at 88 my legs just will not carry me up the hills. Nowadays the fishing and hunting places I often enjoyed alone are becoming frequented by others. It seems to me really too many others in some places and I appreciate the concern of today’s fishermen and hunters.

  5. Predator Pete says:

    Population pressure does mean sharing a diminishing resource with more hunters and fishermen.
    Advances in technology and transport make a wilderness experience hard to achieve.
    I can reluctantly accept this reality to a point.
    Abusive/possessive angling guides and “fair chase” fenced hunting reserves are harder to accept.

  6. Bruce Kean says:

    I gave up fishing in the Taupo region 25 years ago
    I am not a fan of combat fishing you can have the picket fence on the Waitahanui
    Finding a fisher or two on every pool on the Tauranga Taupo
    Being asked to move because the guide has a very important client on the Tongariro
    That’s not what I call pleasant fishing.
    The numbers of fisher folk were crazy when flying was “fashionable” in the late eighties
    They dropped off when the financial crashes happened and we could breath a sigh of relieve
    The gang I fish with went to other places caught more than our fair share of fish on rivers.
    We could enjoy the blue duck and other wild life knowing that we were the only ones to fish there. Greedy selfish too right.
    Until covid came any where I fished with both islands there bloody tourists foreign fly fishing folk complete with foreign guides
    Covid is a blessing for fly fishing folk the mad pressure on streams and rivers has dropped away
    The mad pursuit of money by DOC, guides and travel company selling New Zealand fly fishing destroyed

    The pressure killed the pleasure
    But every one made heaps of money.
    My god did the money roll in.
    Its not over population most New Zealanders get their exercise other places.
    Fly fishing requires you to walk long distances, get muddy and stand in cold water up to your crutch, that’s now just tooo much I mean really”.
    We have a unique opportunity to with covid closing the boarders to put in place regulations that control this fishing pressure and return the fishing pleasure
    I have been hunting since I was 6 over sixty years don’t do it now my knees are stuffed.
    Helicopter shooting all that did was spreed the deer around, when the coppers were around the hinds would just take cover with the fawns in the scrub and let them fly past.
    The deer are there just harder to find

  7. Bud jones JonesQSM says:

    I forgot to mention above the invasion by choppers ferry for “sportsmen” Once fishing in Maruia on west side of Mnt Rutland, a guide with angler were spotting fish from the chopper, then wheeled around & dropped off the angler on a beach below the selected fish to stalk.
    Another 11 hour tramp into Venus Hut in upper Karamea R. I was fishing happily in serene wilderness peace, when a sudden roar overhead a huge chopper load of 10/15kyaks dropped off the paddlers about400 mtrs above me on river edge. Soon the lot came splashing past yahooing shouts of near mishaps & giggles. Totally out of keeping with the scene, now a very common occurrence in back country rivers. The argument is that these adventure seekers bring in wallets stacked with Visa cards,& “we need them”
    So as usual it comes down to money,we love the wilderness as a golden goose, marketed to attract the Visa card.
    A good read is Dr John Robinson’s “Plague of People”Tross Publishing.

  8. Bud jones JonesQSM says:

    i’MGlad to see Bruce Kean above, mentioning fishing as combat sport, even “contact” sport. I was “invited” to vacate a pool one time because a guide had a high paying client wanting to fish there.
    When I declined the invitation, I was offered the alternative,

  9. John Gornall says:

    Tony Orman’s Crowded Out-Doors Article.
    There are many of us who remember the days, when one could spend a week in a forest hut, fishing or shooting, and never see another soul, and regret their passing.

    Tony mentions 5,000,000 people in New Zealand several times. I find it difficult to believe that recent migrant arrivals are responsible for the ‘Crowding of the Great Out-Doors’, as indeed they may be for the housing shortage.

    In the 1970’s, I recall local the Acclimatization Society and such interested bodies – to be followed by NZ Fish & Game, a government agency – encouraging the sport of trout fishing by displaying catches of a dozen or more fish; encouraging beginners to both fish and shoot.

    The enthusiasm for trout fishing began long before the population boom. Advertising resulted in some visitors coming purely to fish and hunt. There was a new gold-rush. Skillful local fishing and hunting enthusiasts were prepared to exploit this rich seam of wealth by becoming Guides.

    What better way of life than to be paid for doing what they enjoyed – with clients prepared to pay through the nose – much better than a regular, boring, routine work. With clients in-tow, they began cluttering the trout streams and forests of easy access, forcing locals to more distant – undisturbed – regions.

    The Guides were not long to follow. Whereas local hunters and fishermen would tramp several days to arrive at their desired ‘Eden’, it took no time at all for Guides with their money-bags to arrive by helicopter, to occupy the huts, and force the weary tramping sportsmen to sleep in the open.

    It was shortly after this that trout catches were restricted, and ‘catch-and-release’, encouraged. This was more in the interests of Professional Guides, for if trout numbers were depleted, visitors would be discouraged, and Guide’s incomes badly affected.

    This situation was exacerbated by the promotion of tourism as a National Economic Asset, as a money-earner, not just for Professional Guides, but for the national and local economy. What had been solely deer-stalkers and fisherman’s path-ways wandering the wilderness areas, were taken over by the recently created Department of Conservation. Tracks were graded, old huts replaced, fees charged, and in no time at all tourist numbers drove drove-out local sportsmen. The last thing D o C wanted was to Conserve, rather, it was their intention to exploit.

    Then Fishing Lodges – also catering for Hunters – mushroomed, and rural accommodation B&B, sprang-up in every district. It was at this time too, that bird-life went into decline. Areas where parakeets, blue ducks, morporks, falcons, kakas and keas had flourished naturally, were no longer quiet sanctuaries. The decline was said to be due to increasing possum-numbers – so poisoning began.

    As Tourism became a major part of the National Economy. In addition to fishing, hunting and tramping enthusiasts, other tourists arrived seasonally for snow and water ski-ing, speed-boat river rides, even bungy-jumping, so the Out-Doors became even more congested.

    Those who paid the penalty for this national prosperity was the sport of local hunters and fishermen.

  10. Grant Henderson says:

    Some years back a friend of mine did an autumn trip by chopper to a remote (well it used to be remote) Sth Island river.

    On the way in the pilot said they would find the trout spooky. When asked why, he replied he’d been taking fishing parties in to that spot every week the whole summer.

    He was right – as soon as my mate’s fly hit the water in a gin-clear pool the trout took off. They saw big fish but caught none. In some waters pressure has been so great that the fish feed only at night, I understand.

    Moral: get out and fish while Covid has barred the overseas anglers.

  11. Vern Watson says:

    Clearly there is a need for a Ministry of Population and Planning for the Future.

    However governments (National led and Labour led) have done nothing. I would have thought the Greens would be into the population crisis and planning ahead but they are have done nothing either.

    The Green Party is a bad joke as an environmental political party.

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