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Plentiful on the western side of the Southern Alps, kea may also be found in the Pelarus Mountains and the Kaikoura Range as well as the Tararua Range of the North Island


Found in native forests up to 2000m. Kea are less common east of the main divide where native forests are fewer.


Berries, seeds, tender roots, leaf buds, flowers, insects and worms. Nectar of the flowering mountain flax is a favourite food. Kea will also scavenge rubbish dumps and carrion.


Breeding is through July - January; males may have one or more mates. They nest often on the ground in a rocky crevice, beneath tree roots or a fallen tree. Loosely made of lichens, twigs, leaves, nests may be added to over several years. Two to three eggs are incubated for 21-25 days - the male roosts nearby to guard the nest or feed the female. Chicks remain in the nest for 9-12 weeks and are fledged by 13-14 weeks.


Only 37% of Kea live longer than one year.


Humans and introduced mammals such as stoat, cats and brush-tailed possum

Conservation Status:



Kea are unique to the Southern Alps and are the worlds only true alpine parrot. They are also one of the world’s most intelligent animal! Kea are very social – they love to play, are very inquisitive and like to investigate new things.

Distinguishing features of a kea include general olive-green colour with orange-red underwings. The male's beak is more curved than the female's. Like most parrots they walk with deliberate, waddling stride; jumping when in a hurry. Kea fly low and fast through bush, high when travelling far.

Threats to the kea include lead poisoning, 1080 poisoning, human persecution and predation by introduced pests.

To find out how you can help conserve kea in the wild, go to

At Hamilton Zoo:

We have four Kea, Charlie, Tane,