Kea
Photo credit
Karl Anderson

Where can I see the Kea

Inspiring you to embark on an unforgettable journey, discovering the beauty and wonder of Kea in its natural habitat

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The kea, known scientifically as Nestor notabilis, is an extraordinary parrot native to the South Island of New Zealand. This bird stands out for its intelligence and playful behaviour, making it one of the most fascinating and iconic avian species in the world. Renowned for its curiosity and problem-solving abilities, the kea is often referred to as the "clown of the mountains."

Kea are medium-sized parrots, measuring about 46 cm (18 inches) in length. They have olive-green plumage with bright orange underwings, which are most visible during flight. The kea's beak is long and curved, well-adapted for foraging and exploring. Their legs and feet are strong and dexterous, enabling them to manipulate objects and navigate rugged terrain.

The kea is omnivorous, with a diet that includes a variety of plant materials, fruits, seeds, insects, and small animals. They are known to scavenge in human habitats, often investigating and eating food scraps. Their feeding behaviour is highly opportunistic, and they have been observed using tools to obtain food.

Kea are highly social and intelligent birds, often seen in groups. They exhibit playful and inquisitive behaviours, such as sliding down snow-covered roofs and dismantling objects. These parrots are also known for their problem-solving skills and ability to learn from each other. Their vocalizations include a range of calls used for communication within the flock.

The kea is classified as Endangered (EN) by the IUCN. The main threats to its survival include habitat destruction, predation by introduced species, and human persecution due to their sometimes destructive interactions with property and livestock. Conservation efforts include habitat protection, predator control, and public education to mitigate human-wildlife conflict.

The best time to observe kea in the wild is during the summer months from December to February when they are most active. They can be seen in various alpine regions of the South Island, particularly in national parks such as Arthur's Pass and Fiordland.

Animal population
3,000 - 7,000
Population
IUCN Classification
Endangered (EN)
IUCN Classification

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Best time to see the Kea
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Perfect
Good
Tolerable
Awful

Geeky Facts about the Kea

Fact 1

Kea are known for their unique, loud call that sounds like "kee-aa".

Fact 2

They are one of the few alpine parrots in the world.

Fact 3

Kea have been observed using tools to solve puzzles.

Tours where I can see the Kea

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Wellington & South Island - 14 days
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Classic South Island Adventure
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The Best of New Zealand
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Iconic Australia and New Zealand
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Enchanting New Zealand - 16 days
Enchanting New Zealand - 16 days

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Best of Down Under: Australia & New Zealand
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The Wonders of Australia with New Zealand add-on
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Ultimate New Zealand
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New Zealand
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New Zealand: South Island Encompassed
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Southern Spirit
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6 days from

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New Zealand
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18 days from

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Premium New Zealand South Island
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Best of New Zealand with Fiji
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19 days from

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New Zealand
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19 days from

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Natural Wonders of New Zealand and Australia Cruise and Tour
Natural Wonders of New Zealand and Australia Cruise and Tour

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New Zealand, Australia
Tour type
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Small Group
Activity level
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2 - Light

29 days from

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Discover New Zealand
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New Zealand
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Ultimate South Pacific with the Legendary Ghan Train & Fiji
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31 days from

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Premium New Zealand Encompassed
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New Zealand
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Adventure Tours
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18 days from

£7,615 / person

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New Zealand
Tour type
Tour Type
Small Group
Activity level
Activity Level
2 - Light

16 days from

£4,895 / person

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New Zealand - South Island Multisport

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New Zealand
Tour type
Tour Type
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Activity level
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15 days from

£2,849 / person

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Legendary New Zealand
Legendary New Zealand

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New Zealand
Tour type
Tour Type
Active
Activity level
Activity Level
2 - Light

21 days from

£2,685 / person

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New Zealand Magic
New Zealand Magic

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Tour type
Tour Type
Small Group
Activity level
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17 days from

£4,895 / person

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Beyond Fiordland: Wild Islands of New Zealand
Beyond Fiordland: Wild Islands of New Zealand

Beyond Fiordland: Wild Islands of New Zealand

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New Zealand
Tour type
Tour Type
Cruise
Activity level
Activity Level
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12 days from

£7,250 / person

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