Photo Essay: New Zealand Kea / by Heather

Kea are the world's only alpine parrots, found only on New Zealand's South Island. They are extremely intelligent with a highly developed sense of curiosity, which can lead to them being a bit of a nuisance at times. They got on my NZ bucket list when I watched a documentary about Milford Sound and saw footage of them gleefully destroying tourists' rental cars by ripping off windshield wipers.

Fast forward almost a year, and there I was in Milford Sound, on an epic quest to find kea. I had already passed by the spot where I had seen them  on the documentary, a large pullout right before the Homer Tunnel, that was at the time, woefully devoid of kea. However, having chosen to stay at the only hostel in Milford Sound, I became hopefully again when I realized the nearby patch of jungle clamoured with shrieking parrots. And sure enough, I heard the sounds of a kea on the hostel grounds and went running out with my camera. I was lucky enough to have found a wee group of three kea that basked in the attention of myself and the few other people that had come out to see them. I soon realized that they were so curious about us, the zoom lens I brought was mostly useless, as they would waddle right up to us inquisitively. 

Trouble tripled

Take off

And touchdown

Even the kea thinks this guy might be overcompensating with his lens

Working hard to destroy a possum trap

Working hard to destroy a manhole cover

Contemplating working hard to destroy a pair of boots

But thankfully distracted by the pretty bird in the mirror