our stories

Kea Conservation on the Milford Track

This kea is called Tolstoy - banded on the Milford Track in 2021

Money raised by Ultimate Hikes walkers

Over $18,000 has been given to the Kea Conservation Trust donated by our walkers on the Milford Track.

Overall we have given over $30,000 to the Trust's work monitoring kea.  

To support the Kea Conservation Trust you can donate on their website.



Monitoring Kea populations on the Milford Track

Walkers on the Milford and Routeburn Tracks have had the thrill of seeing and hearing Kea in the alpine areas of the tracks.   

Over the years we noticed that the Kea seemed to come and go over seasons and most weren't banded.

We talked to the Kea Conservation Trust and learnt the Trust wasn't monitoring the birds in this region so we decided to help,.

We invited them to come on track and stay with us.  Since 2020, Lydia McLean has led teams on track to see how many kea there are and possibly catch to test some for lead poisoning, when they can also band them to monitor their movements.  The team stays at our lodges and also camp in the lunch hut at Pass Hut on the top of the Mackinnon Pass.  On their first visit they tested and banded four kea, 

In December 2021 they saw a huge increase in bird numbers on track.  Over 20 birds were caught and banded at Pass Hut, Mintaro hut and Pompolona Lodge, and our walkers were able to learn from the team more about the Kea and their habits.  

Monitoring Kea populations

The Kea database registers all birds who are banded and encourage people to reports sightings of them on the website.

This allows them to learn how far the birds travel and where they nest.  

Over the 2021-22 season we promoted the Kea Sponsorship project by inviting walkers to sponsor a bird and name it. 

The programme was incredibly popular and all of the birds caught on track were sponsored  over the 2021-22 season. 

The support of our walkers was so incredible that we included birds banded in the Fiordland/Southland region, and by the end of the season our walkers sponsored 45 Kea.

If you sponsored a kea or know someone who has you can check it out on the link below .

If you see Kea that have bands on their leg, you can go on to the website and log a sighting.  This helps the trust immensely so please keep an eye out for them.

Kea database

What's next?

In the 2022-23 season we are increasing our support of the Trust.  Ways we are doing this are:

  • Providing funds for the trust to monitor breeding pairs to learn more about their habitat and where they nest.
  • Hosting teams from the Trust to stay on track to monitor and band birds.
  • If nests are found the trust can put traps around it to protect the nest from predators
  • Encourage this season's walkers to sponsor kea and support the Trust's work on the Milford and Routeburn Tracks.
  • Removing lead from the last of the buildings we are responsible for on the Milford Track and Routeburn Tracks.

We are very excited to continue our work and support the KCT on the tracks to protect and enhance the Kea population in the Fiordland and Southland region.

To learn more about the trust and what they do click on the link below.

Kea Initiative