I, Kea

I’ve had amazing luck seeing New Zealand’s wildlife in the actual wild, from huge cave weta and a real (and really adorable) kiwi in Northland to an “invasive” wallaby in Rotorua to seals in the carpark at Kaikoura.

I was hoping I’d get to see a kea, the country’s native alpine parrot. And boy, did I.

Kea are curious birds known for stealing food from hikers. They are also pretty neat looking, bigger than the typical house parrot and with a bit of a rough look. If there were parrot bikers, they’d be kea, I’m sure. They’re dull green until they’re in flight… When they spread their wings you see this amazing blaze of bright crimson.

Anyway, I was at a scenic overlook in Fiordland National Park when I saw my first kea. He was just walking around another campervan. I tried to take a picture with him and Karl, but he flew away.

The other campervan drove off, leaving me alone in the car park. The kea returned just as I was getting in Skylon and parked himself in front of the car, staring at me. A moment later, another kea swooped down and landed on Skylon’s roof and stomped around a bit.

What else could I do, I opened the moonroof and took some pictures of him through the glass while he stared down at me with a look that said “you feelin’ lucky, punk?”

With the light dying and my campground still a few miles away, I pulled out of the parking lot with the kea still on my roof. He had a bit of a joyride before flying off. So I guess we both got a thrill.


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