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.

2021-2022 Great Walks Season Outcomes

Two catch trips were carried out in February and December 2021.

February (15-18th):

Three new kea were banded (2 adult males and a juvenile male) around McKinnon Pass and a resighting of AZ on blue (Kelvina ) who was banded the previous year. This trip also provided a valuable training opportunity for our kea trainee towards their L2 banding certificate and provided the opportunity to deliver public education talks at the hut.

December (11-15th):

Eighteen new kea were banded and added to the Kea Database and re-sightings entered. For a list of all banded birds on the track, please scroll to the bottom of this page.

This trip also enabled training opportunity for four trianee banders towards their L2 banding certificate. Further public education talks were delivered at Quinton Lodge, Mintaro Hut and Pompolona Lodge. By the end of the season, all kea had been sponsored by Ultimate Hikes guests allowing for ongoing kea conservation work on the Milford and Routeburn Tracks and to support the Murchison Mountains kea project.

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
  • White A3 on Red
  • White AU on Green
  • White AH on Brown
  • White B6 on Blue
  • Yellow BG on Blue
  • White C5 on Green
  • White DJ on Red
  • Yellow C1 on Blue
  • Black CH on Orange
  • White DK on Orange
  • White DG on Black
  • White DJ on Blue
  • White DF on Green
  • White BJ on Blue
  • Black D5 on Orange
  • Black BG on Yellow
  • Black CK on Yellow
  • Black DG on Yellow
  • Black C5 on White
  • Yellow CK on Blue

Related Projects

Nest Monitoring
22 Nov 13
Funded by Dulux and Wellington Zoo Conservation Fund The Kea Conservation Trust has been monitoring kea nests since 2009. The initial reason for monitoring nests was...
Read More
Kea Field Ranger Training Programme
06 Sep 21
Funded by the Withiel Charitable Trust A large proportion of our work is field-based, in the harsh South Island landscape which kea call home. To be...
Read More
NZFOA - Banding of Kea in Plantation Forestry Estate
13 Sep 19
Funded by NZFOA ($8,800) While kea are known to live and breed throughout South Island Conservation Estates (National Parks etc), little is known about kea in...
Read More
Predator Control - Rotoiti kea nest protection programme
28 Nov 13
The Rotoiti/Nelson Lakes Nest Protection project has been running since 2012 and continues today.   On this page you will find the following: 2022 - Help us...
Read More
Fiordland Kea Sightings Project
16 Dec 16
Supported by the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation (FWF) and Paradise Valley Springs. The Fiordland Wapiti Foundation (FWF) is supporting kea conservation by encouraging their members, to return...
Read More
Mt Aspiring population and nest monitoring
06 Oct 16
Funded by Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund. Equipment funded by Craig Butcher. Supported by DOC Wanaka. This project aims to develop a community kea catch trip, survey and...
Read More
Community driven kea monitoring in the Stuart Mtns - Fiordland Wapiti Foundation Blocks
04 Apr 18
Funded by Paradise Valley Springs, Clever Kiwis, Denver Zoo, "Name a Kea" donors and Nga Whenua Rahui This multi-year project is building on the Community –...
Read More
Murchison Mountains kea monitoring
03 Jan 19
Funded by the Nelson Family (in loving memory of Mike and Jean Nelson), Nga Whenua Rahui, Wellington Zoo Conservation Fund, Denver Zoo, Association of Zoos and...
Read More
Population Surveys
22 Nov 13
Funded by the NZ Lottery Grants Board and DOC The Kea Conservation Trust has been running kea population surveys each year since 2009. These surveys are...
Read More
Trialling of a bird repellent to prevent kea strike on sheep
16 Jan 14
Project Background Conflict between kea and New Zealand high country sheep is an on-going issue which prior to protection being granted to kea in the early...
Read More
Perth Catchment (ZIP research site) - kea monitoring
24 Dec 19
In early 2018, Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP) attached transmitters to 31 kea in the Perth Valley. This was part of a study looking at kea mortality...
Read More
Trialling of a surface bird repellent to deter kea from interacting with human objects
16 Jan 14
Funded by Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund Kill traps and some bait delivery systems, used to control mammalian pests, may be directly responsible for keas deaths(through their...
Read More


Sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date