Milford Track Kea Initiative - investigating the health and status of kea on the Milford Track

Ultimate Hikes has been identifying and removing lead from huts on the Milford Track since 2018 to minimise the impact of lead on kea in Fiordland.

The Milford Track Kea Initiative will build on the work already undertaken by Ultimate Hikes by i) assessing the status and health of kea along the Milford Track, ii) developing a pool of education and advocacy resources for track users and iii) providing opportunities for people to get involved with kea conservation initiatives.

This project will run annually from the end of October to the end of April. Outcomes will be posted regularly on this page.

2019 - 2020 Great Walks Season Outcomes

Funding $5,000


  • To test blood lead levels of kea in the Milford Track area
  • To apply bands for identification of individual kea from a distance
  • To support projects by DOC, University of Canterbury and University of Otago researchers by collecting feather and blood samples.

Area Covered
Milford Track, in particular areas above bush line around Mackinnon Pass and Sutherland Falls.

28th – 30th December 2019 Trip Outcome

  • Four kea were caught over a period of three days – two at the Mackinnon memorial and two at Sutherland Falls. All were banded, measured, and given a health assessment.
  • Blood samples were taken from three of the birds for lead testing and other research projects. Results from the three blood lead samples were all low.

Have you seen the Ultimate Hikes kea?

If you see any of these banded birds while you're on the Milford Track and surrounds, please report them to the keadatabase!

  • Black AD on Orange
  • White AZ on Blue
  • Red AR on White
  • Black A2 on Yellow

What’s Next? 
Four additional kea were sighted at Sutherland Falls which were not caught due to time constraints. Several others were also present around Pass Hut. A further trip would be worthwhile to catch these birds and any others that are around.

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