Otago Red Stag Trails High Pass backpack adventure

Retracing the golden years of Otago red stag hunting – Following in the footsteps of giants.

A new opportunity from Lake Hawea Hunting Safaris, stepping into the mountains and back in time. With professional guide Chris McCarthy and Professional Photographer Steve Couper. This is an epic photographic Adventure.

Historical, backpack, adventure to the halcyon days of Otago red stag hunting.

Traverse one of the high passes used by early Otago red stag hunters, enjoy beautiful alpine terrain, loose some sweat, soak up the environment and stand in the footsteps of early Otago stag hunters, on the quest for new hunting grounds and exceptional trophies.

We have multiple options available for our backpack high pass adventure, retracing famous routes into Otago red stag country. All routes are physically demanding, some more so than others. This adventure starts with 4×4 drop off and ends with 4×4 pick up at the end of the route on the other side. Good fitness is needed, private 4×4 access will cut out some of the donkey work, but this is a physically demanding hike, just as the early hunters experienced in search of trophy Otago red stags. You will be backpacking and spending each night in a different location further along the route. This adventure is best suited to people with backpacking experience. Tents, food and all gear needed will be carried with us.

This is primarily a photographic safari. Some hunting can be added to this package, ask about this.

The magnificent country that Otago red stags inhabit


Chris as head guide.
Professional photographer Steve Couper stevecouperphotography.co.nz will photograph your adventure. All clients will be sent a professional, comprehensive range of photographs so you can take home your own memories.
History of the particular route and some the early hunters who pioneered it, Otago red stag trophies taken etc.
All meals and accommodation, (tent or cabin accommodation while in the mountains).
Airport pick up and return, Queenstown airport, South Island, NZ (if needed).
Binoculars can be hired if you do not have them.
It is preferred you bring your own back pack and tent, we can help fill in the gaps with any gear you are missing.

Minimum private group size: 3 people min, 7 people max, for groups of 4-7 people an additional guide and vehicle will be provided. New clients welcome, or if you’re one of our existing clients it may be a case of talking to other hunters you have met while in camp at Lake Hawea Hunting Safaris and organising a group. Or talking to other hunters who are just as passionate about the Otago red stag and the Otago red stag story / history as you are.

Single and couple stand-alone bookings are available but cost of 3 people will be incurred, no you will not be placed with others, you will have this trip to yourself. We do not offer single / couple bookings to become part of a larger group, experience has taught us otherwise.


Helicopter drop off or pick up, (all trips backed up by helicopter support if needed).
Additional days can be added, this package can be tailored to your liking.

Suitability: Good fitness a must. We can tailor the route to a certain degree based on the make up and wishes of your group, some routes are more demanding and more remote than others.

Services: Basic tent camps and cabins, basic back pack food.

Availability: November, December, January, February.

Contact Chris McCarthy, Lake Hawea Hunting Safaris for pricing, availability and further info:
Ph: +64 27 3490 393, chris@hawea-hunting.co.nz

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Many of our clients and many hunters in general are fascinated by the Otago red deer herd and the history of it, so we thought we not offer an off season adventure (November – February) walking some of the historical trails in Otago red stag country.

The Otago red stag herd and the exceptional modern day Otago red stag trophies we are taking with our clients is what sets Lake Hawea Hunting Safaris apart. Our traditional, free range, Otago stag hunts are second to none, an incredible experience for a quality of Otago stag that was thought to be lost forever, we have re-created history with our game management program.

The history of the Otago herd and the early hunters and guides is a fascinating story and in many cases well documented. In recent years Chris has been walking many of the historic hunting routes into the backcountry following in the footsteps of the guides and hunters of early last century.  Many of the guides lived at Hawea Flat (such as Jim Muir and Donald Bell) which is where Lake Hawea Hunting Safaris is located, many of the early expeditions began from Hawea Flat.