It should be safe to remove the hook as long as you’re directly in front of it. I just put my hand underneath and feel for the hook. You’ll probably need a decent reel with a good smooth drag and line in diameter of about 0.50 which is around 15kg. If the reel doesn’t have enough drag you might need to put your hand on the spool while pulling. Most rods you wont be able to put enough pressure on with the rod in the air so just put the rod straight and pull. When they run don’t try to stop them as they will most likely break something, but when they stop pull as hard as you can or they will just sit there on the bottom. Preferred tackle is as heavy as you can fish, a stiff rod and solid reel with good drag and line capacity. Don’t use any low quality hooks that might bend out and bigger hooks like 10/0 usually hook better and easier to remove.
They will take any size bait but bigger is better and something like squid, yellow eyed mullet, kahawai etc will work. Best time of the year is probably november – april. They should be anywhere around south shore, taylors mistake and around lyttelton. At the pier there was one caught in november, then none that I heard of untill I got one in I think April, then a few weeks after that they were around in massive numbers for at least a week which could mean they were moving north along the beach from lyttelton, south shore etc. Not sure on their movements and where they are at certain times of the year but they were around in numbers off the Bluff wharf at the bottom of the South Island during april but I got no idea if they are still around during winter. If you look in books the information on Short-tail rays says they are not even found in the South Island.
Be carefull of the tails as they are fast and have a lot of movement, anyone who was there when a guy cut up a stingray on the kaikoura wharf will know and that guy nearly got a barb in his face more than once.