Central South Island businessman Gary Rooney is the new owner of Dry Creek Station. The 13,779-hectare South Canterbury property, the largest privately owned holding in the South Island,is best known in the international hunting community because of the quality of the free-range tahr population that lives there, and its safari hunting estate operation. It has often been called the best tahr hunting property in New Zealand and was recently written up by me in a Hunting Report Profile.Mr Rooney has several properties in the South Island, including Stew Point station in the Rangitata Gorge from which safari hunting operations are run and Cloudy Range station in the Kaikoura mountains. He is also a major partner in hunting operation Kiwi Safaris.
Heli-hunting is still in the news. A You-Tube clip mixed segments of Tourism NZ and actual heli-hunting footage to produce a film segment that mocked guides and hunters who take their trophies in this aerial manner. The clip has received a lot of hits, and adverse media attention. The issue has re-ignited the rift in New Zealand as outfitters and hunters are split on the form future heli-hunting legislation should take. The Department of Conservation (DOC) has adopted the old successful Empire ruling technique of Divide and Rule, letting both sides vent at each other while offering no clear decision of their own.
As of today: 7:02:2010 DOC is allowing outfitters to carry on public land heli-hunting of tahr and chamois as normal, while more submissions are gathered, and a more comprehensive decision made in June. DOC conditions dictate that heli-hunters should avoid ground hunting parties, and not shoot animals from the air, but points such as chasing, herding and hazing fall into the grey category. Local hunters are upset heli-hunting continues as normal, while they are in the middle of writing their submissions to modify or end its use. This issue has several chapters to be written yet.