New Zealand Fallow Deer History

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Introduced from Europe to the South Island in 1864 and the North Island 13 years later, fallow deer reside today on both North and South islands of New Zealand.

In 1866, 6 fallow deer from Sydney were taken to Aniseed Valley in a crate. By 1870, there was a substantial herd in the Aniseed Valley.

More deer were liberated up to 1910 in Upper Takaka, Mt Arthur, Teal Valley and Whangamoa.

By the 1920's, the Aniseed Valley herd had extended north-east along the Bryant Range towards the Pelorus River, and in 1940 some of this herd merged with the herd from Teal Valley. As well, other herds extended into Mt Richmond and the Marlborough Sounds.

The Upper Takaka herd merged with the Mt. Arthur herd and the combined herd spread into the Cobb, Matiri, Rolling River, Wangapeka and Clarke River valleys.
  Fallow buck at Lake Hawea, courtesy Glen Dene Adventures, New Zealand.
Right around the turn of the century, two more groups of fallow deer were liberated near Lake Otatoa on the South Head peninsula by a local landowner. It is believed these animals came from the Motutapu Island herd in the Hauraki Gulf--and those deer were from a 1861 shipment from Pembrokeshire, Wales.

In total, at least 24 liberations of various types of fallow deer were made in New Zealand between 1864 and 1910.

They've actually been domesticated as far back as the 9th century B.C., when the Phoenicians farmed them them for meat.

Fallow deer are now found in many low-altitude forests, partly the result of farm escapes. There are 13 populations scattered from north of Auckland to Southland, as well as on private properties and game estates. Fallow deer are now the second most numerous species of deer in the country, after red deer.