A few Kea at the car park came to say hello. Then very exciting to see a whole bunch up close at the lunch hut. Guarding the entrance like a toll gate. Crikey though, check out that beak! That could do some damage. A trio cheekily bounced around on their arses on the transparent plastic porch roof to entertain us, in the hope of tasty payment. Like feathery buskers. A routine all worked out: Dance, then swoop down, peck your shoe and look cute. It was all they could do not to squeeze out a little tear and point a wing into their open beaks while rubbing their bellies. And round bellies at that. I think this tactic must be pretty effective by the look of that portly parrot waistline!
Camping at Cascade Creek
A midnight tent shot here. Cookie always asks me to wake him up now when I go for a tinkle in the night, in case there’s some great moonlight or starscape shots to be had. We found ourselves a good spot, not too soggy, not too rocky. And sat round for dinner. Lurking in the shadows, unknown to us, we were being watched …
At first we heard the noises … like drunk seagulls. Then suddenly, some rustling behind you… “Bah!”, “What was that?”, “Ooo creepy”. Squinting into the darkness, trying to make out shapes in the long grass… Something was darting around. Getting up to investigate, we were unaware we were being cunningly lured away from our pots and pans, sporks and cheese… Suddenly! A tinkle and jangle over your shoulder by camp. “Woa! How’d he get over there so fast?”. It was an ambush! Teams of Kea were circling like wolves, keen to get their hands ( beaks! ) on anything sparkly or tasty. We were sitting ducks. Hurriedly gathering everything together, tying our boots to our rucksacks, and stashing the rations, we ran at them to chase them off. Not realising the kea were only playing along, looking scared, only to about-turn immediately and softly creep directly behind you back to camp – their feathery faces silently giggling to themselves all the way. Cheeky buggers!
The ambushes came in waves throughout the night. The enemy choosing to wear us down via sleep deprivation. Through a combo of squalking to keep us awake, and, should any of us make the silly mistake of dropping off, nipping under the tent shell to peck us sharply on the heads through the mesh! Now you’d think it wouldn’t get much more brazen than that.
But Seriously, many a time I awoke to find a big beady eyed beaker tucked under the outer sheet starring me down with suspicion – cm’s from my face as i slept. Creepy! What did he want?? Why me?? This bird’s a psycho.
I tied my metal mug to our boot laces and both pairs back to my rucksack. A rudimentary, but effective Kea burglar alarm. And shockingly enough, not a few mins later, but “tinkle tinkle” … Sitting bolt upright I was just in time to see one of Cookie’s boots being dragged off outside from under the top sheet, boot lace pulled tort, rucksack clip squeaking and straining. And what was obviously one of the enemy outside putting his full effort into liberating this shoe off into the darkness. Kind of impressive in a way, but also shocking the strength of this Alpine Parrot. What was he thinking? His feet were way too small for these boots. Did he want to eat them? Whatever the reason, it seemed a life or death mission for this little fella. He had to have this boot, no matter the cost. Stunned, i retrieved the footwear. And satisfied i’d seen off the assailant, went back to bed.
This cycle of torment went on all night. The little shits :)
And this wasn’t the half of it… Whilst carefully diverting our attention, another crack team of sharp faced sadists were hard at work on their main mission. The extent of which was yet to be revealed until daylight…
Kea Sawing Above, Observing Us With a Beady Eye…
Nico Photographing an Inquisitive Kea
Evil Kea Eats Ollie’s Tent!
“Evil Kea ate our tent!”.
I wake up to some commotion. It was clear ‘they’d’ been on a rampage in the night. After wearing us down with sleep depravation tactics, and falling into a dangerously exposed deep sleep, they’d flocked upon us and shredded the shit out of Ollie’s poor tent. “You beaky bastards!”. I couldn’t believe it. Gapping holes, and peg loops strewn around, with possessions stolen and discarded around the river bank. A quick scout revealed a missing tent bag, and half eaten Tea Tree Oil DEODORANT, and a backpack burglary of a technically impressive nature indeed. Pulling off Ollie’s rain cover, uncoupling the lid, pulling out an inner bag, and running off with one of our weighty corn on the cobs!! I shit you not.
This was SAS stuff. “Let’s get out of here” … “They’re coming… Run!”
If you were wondering why we were hiking with weighty corn on the cob, I’d like to remind you that Ollie and Nico did the supermarket shopping for this section! Drinking his deodorant? I certainly didn’t see that one coming.
Cheeky Beaky Resident at Muller Hut
The hut warden at Muller Hut was a little smaller than we’re used to. But boy, was he keen to see us. He seemed extremely eager to check the contents of our sandwiches weren’t breaking any conservation laws. Very diligent.
He was a brilliantly entertaining little Kea. I say ‘little’ but at 18inches high this fella had managed to accumulate quite a curvature of belly on him. I’m surprised he could fly to be honest. But even with that adorable cheeky grin and a fake tears in his shiny eyes, his cuteness wasn’t going to liberate our sandwiches away from their intended fate. We’d walked too hard for them. Sorry mate!
A Rigourous Inspection From the Feathery Hut Warden
He puzzled over us from every angle, checkin us out good and proper.
Hanging out on the veranda the little fella continued on with his perky busking routine. Rolling himself around on a coke can, trying to leap onto your lap, dancing on the back of the bench firing out parrot poo missiles, pecking the camera lens cutely then promptly yanking the strap to run off with it. Brazenly cheeky little bugger! He looked so soft, i was tempted to reach out and give him a tickle… But something about that ferocious looking beak stopped me. That, and the tales from Micheal & Chrissy about Kea being able to kill sheep! They’re evil little fellas. But awesome at the same time :)