Introduced ungulate game animals are managed as pests on New Zealand public lands. Open access recreational hunting and commercial harvests have resulted in negative externalities as individuals and groups with competing interests have sought to maximise their own benefits. The revocation of pest status for these species in the Game Animal Council Act 2013 and the possibility of managing herds of special interest have brought into focus the lack of information on recreational hunter motivations, resource use, harvests and satisfactions. Recreational hunters were surveyed each month for a year about these matters, and participated in a choice experiment to identify characteristics of preferred hunts for Sika deer. The choice experiment used travel distance as the numeraire of value to overcome resistance to the commodification of recreational hunting, using an adaptive pivot design to address the wide variance in distances travelled. The study identified significant non-market benefits of recreational hunting. Hunters were highly heterogeneous, both in their hunting behaviours and preferences, which has important implications for management. Spatial and temporal separation of different types of hunters, as well as management of harvest and activity levels provide opportunities for significantly enhancing the value of recreational hunting.