A Short History of Moose in New Zealand – Herrick Creek Distillery

A Short History of Moose in New Zealand

The first moose introduced into New Zealand arrived in 1900 and were released in the Hokitika Valley area. Only a few of the moose actually arrived due to a bad sea journey and they never bred a population. The final moose cow was shot around 1908 after becoming a pest in local gardens. 

In 1910, the second, and more famous, attempt was made to release moose into New Zealand. The New Zealand Premier contacted the Canadian Government who commissioned the Hudson's Bay Company to collect ten moose calves for shipment to New Zealand. The idea behind the request was to create a world-class game reserve in New Zealand - this went alongside the import of other big game such as Red Deer.

The HBC caught the moose from the area around Beaver Hills in Saskatchewan. The moose were carried by train to Vancouver and then shipped to Wellington. Once in Wellington, they quarantined before taking the famous steamship Hinemoa down south into Dusky Sound for release at Supper Cove. 

The ten moose were released in the darkness at Supper Cove. The crew apparently had a hard time getting some of the calves to leave their crates, and one broke its leg in the process, but managed to survive. 

In the 1920s, Eddie Herrick was commissioned by the Government to survey the moose population in Fiordland to see if a suitable population existed. At first, it was thought that the moose were thriving, and two were shot before Eddie made a change and found that the population was actually much smaller than previously thought.

Three moose were officially shot, but it's possible that more over the years were shot either by accident or illegally. The moose were a common sight around Dusky for about 20 years, but the last official moose photograph was in 1952. Since then, no official sightings have been recorded, despite growing evidence, including DNA evidence in the early 2000s.  

The story is much larger and detailed than this - if you want to learn more, be sure to check out Ken Tustin's amazing work, A (Nearly) Complete History of the Moose in New Zealand.