We turned to several contacts in that part of the world for an answer. One is Bob Penfold, who arranged hunts in New Zealand and Australia when he owned and operated a company called Hunt Australia Safaris. He tells us it is not illegal to use a helicopter on a hunt in New Zealand as long as the hunter does not actually shoot from the craft. Our Kiwi correspondent Greg Morton confirmed that with Mike Hodder of Reel Hunting Limited. Hodder is chairman of The New Zealand Professional Hunting Guides Association.
The use of a helicopter to access difficult terrain and locate game is totally legal, Hodder told us. What is illegal is failing to disembark to shoot.
The big question this raises is, what does a hunter do in mountainous terrain, where it is too steep to stand, or where there is ice on the ground. Getting out of a helicopter to shoot can be daunting and dangerous, as witness what happened to an American hunter last year who slipped getting out of a helicopter. He fell to his death, you'll recall. The bottom line, though, is clear: Shooting a game animal from a helicopter in New Zealand is illegal. An American hunter who does so may find himself being charged with a Lacey Act violation when he attempts to import his trophy into the United States.
The only exception provided for shooting from a helicopter in New Zealand is for registered shooters with a company that has a wild game recovery license to........(continued)