The Waikato River is the life blood of the Waikato area. It is also used by the hunting, shooting and fishing fraternity. The duck hides, riverside baches and whitebaiting stands are passed down from father to son through the generations and it is a unique lifestyle that has to be seen to be believed. It has its own written and unwritten laws and rules of conduct.
Each construction, no matter how basic, must be tagged every year, with an official tag obtained and paid for from the council. This must be displayed in a prominent place before April 20th. If a place is not tagged in time then any one else can then attach their tag and becomes the owner for a year.
Now I think I have most of those facts correct, if not maybe some one can put a correction in the comments area at the bottom of this post.
These places range in description from baches,sheds,cabins to mini houses. My son is a very keen hunting, shooting and fishing man and he has a white-baiting stand, duck hide and quite cosy bach. All these places are built along the banks of the river and the only way to reach them is with a boat. So the only way to build them is to take all the material in with the boat. This is quite an accomplishment when you see the size of some of the dwellings.
Just before we left New Zealand it was almost duck shooting season and it was imperative that the duck hide was tagged. We spent a very enjoyable day on the river tagging the hide then going further down stream to collect enough wood for the fire in the bach. We took a picnic and a bottle of wine and beers to celebrate the tagging.
This duck hide is very basic, just a platform hidden in the reeds. But it is in a good position being situated out into the centre of a bend of the river. All duck hides must be 90 metres away from each other so the duck shooters don’t shoot more than ducks.
During the season, which starts the first weekend in May, the keen duck shooters get to the hides before day break, in all weather, well fortified with liquid refreshment, and spend hours there. That is why the fire wood is so important, because after dark it is back to the bach to thaw out and celebrate the days success or otherwise…
This was a new duck hide that will be having its first season this year. We stopped by for a look-see, very comfortable inside with a couch and also weather proofed.
The ingenuity of the Kiwi shows up in all the different styles and adornments. It was a great day out exploring a unique side of the Waikato river community.