Kea Never Sleep – Rob Roy Glacier Track

“A Mish a Day” #90 Rob Roy Glacier Track. Mt Aspiring National Park. 4.1.2012. The first time I visited the Rob Roy Glacier Track was back in 2011, with my friend visiting from France and my parents, and we were very lucky to have the perfect day for hiking. With these two factors combined we needed a place to go. I had heard many good things about the track up to the glacier, so we loaded up the car and headed for the Matukituki Valley

With gear sorted we hit the track and went wandering in the sunshine. The hike was easy and event free and we were welcomed to the viewing area at the top end of the track by the local gang of Kea. It is always interesting watching the alpine parrots interact with the other hikers, and sometimes people’s belongings without their permission! The second time I visited the area was with my friend Josh, and only a few months later. Unfortunately I forgot my camera, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t return without a story… We arrived at the Raspberry Creek car park mid afternoon and set out on the track, but this time we had brought our camping gear. The plan was to go further up the valley towards the saddle between Homestead Peak(2020m) and Rob Roy Low Peak(2609m). As we hiked up the track and passed the last of the day trippers at the glacier viewing area, we also passed the gang of Kea, who were busy harassing the hikers. We had hoped that we had passed the gang unnoticed. We got to a point near a massive waterfall coming out of a rock crevasse in the side of the mountain, and from our tents we had the perfect view up the Rob Roy Glacier. As afternoon turned into evening we had a feed, enjoyed the epic surroundings and listened to music on my speaker. This wasn’t the best idea as just on dusk we heard the first squawk above our exposed camp. This fella must have been a scout, because he left and quickly returned with the rest of the gang, all chuckling amongst each other as they raced up the valley towards us. At first we were stoked with the sight of these beautiful, rare and amazing alpine parrots. This ended quickly when one brave Kea landed on Josh’s tent and instantly bit a nice big hole in the roof with a single chomp. The novelty was over very quickly, and now we had to protect the camp from the inquisitive and very destructive intruders. After we realized chasing them away was pointless, we resorted to throwing stones, but these were easily dodged by our superior foes. The stars were brilliant in the clear sky as we…. “ahhhh bloody Kea are back on your tent bro”… As evening turned into night, we thought about retreating to our tents, when Josh said “I wonder if Kea ever sleep at night?”… From first hand experience I can say that if Kea have a couple of tents to play with, they will party all night long! My tent is a single pole ridgeback, so the game amongst the birds was to land on top of my tent and ride it down as it collapsed under their weight. This game went on all night long, and I had to repeatedly bash the side of the tent which would only temporarily scare them away before they began the game again.

I’ll never forget when at first light the next morning (early-ish), I saw a very sneaky cheeky Kea beak poking around under my tent’s vestibule, and then proceed to drag one of my hiking poles away. I jumped out of my sleeping bag and pursued the early morning thief. I could see that the Kea couldn’t lift my hiking pole into the air, but it could drag it and ended up dragging it away and dropping it off a small bluff into the creek we had been getting water from. After doing this he let out a huge Kea laugh and flew away! Both Josh and I fought our own battles that night with the relentless alpine mischief masters, and both of us had had next to no shut-eye and were now dreaming about sleeping as we packed up and slowly wandered back down the valley. We finally got to the end of the track at Raspberry Stream car park, and before driving back home to Queenstown we both needed a nana nap. The Kea, the world’s cheekiest bird and least loved alpine camping companion!

Pure mischief

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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