Land in New Zealand is at a premium, especially in Auckland. Because of this and the high density of our cities, finding a place where you can comfortably shoot a centrefire rifle has become quite a challenge. Living in the suburbs, I get to shoot rimfire at the local range, and even pistol if the mood strikes me, but there aren’t any convenient locations to shoot high-powered rifles within less than a 45-minute drive.
When I do go to the range, I like to take a few rifles and boxes of ammo and really make a day of it. One of the best ranges for this is the NZDA range in Taupo.
Shooting in Taupo
From Auckland it’s about a two and a half hour drive to Taupo’s NZDA range. Given that you’re loaded up with firearms and ammunition, you can’t exactly stop and sight-see, so it’s pretty much straight driving.
Once you arrive at the range there’s a stainless steel honesty box attached to the fence, in which you drop the princely sum of $2 per shooter. Compared to Auckland ranges which will charge you between $15 and $30 per person, this is where you make up your petrol money.
There are a few clubs that operate from the same location, and they have some shorter ranges and other facilities. However, as a non-member, you have access to the open air 100m range. There are markers so you can set your target at different distances. For example, the black powder guys I was shooting next to last time set theirs at 25m, while I used my scoped hunting rifle at 100m. The guys sighting in their 7mm-08 to my right started at 25m and worked their way back to 100m.
The best part about shooting here is that you have the freedom to go up and check your target as often as you like or as little as you like, provided the range is clear and you aren’t bugging the other shooters. This is in contrast to going to a range where a called shoot is taking place and you have to wait for guys to empty three mags before you can check your 5-shot group.
Of course, how much you enjoy the range will probably depend on how busy it is, but if you use your head, you can plan it so there aren’t many people around. Worst comes to worst, you may have to just wait your turn. Generally speaking if you shoot semi-regularly in the North Island, you start bumping into the same people when you go out, and they’re a pretty decent bunch.
All-in-all you can while away a good amount of time and ammo at the Taupo Deerstalkers range at a very low cost and with very little interference. The drive isn’t too bad, and if you’re shooting with a mate, you can divvy up the driving to break it up a bit. The ability to take your own target and check it at will ranks highly in my books. The range is relatively sheltered from cross-wind too, so provided the weather plays its part – you’re in for a good day.