Yesterday was one of those auspicious days, however. I was travelling through Arthurs Pass, headed to Haast with two colleagues to do a programme at the school there. We stopped to pick up lunch at the Arthurs Pass store, and three kea descended on us.
For those who don’t know, kea are large alpine parrots. Though there are only 2,000 of them left, they are bold and curious animals, unafraid of people. And they’re smart. They understand tourists—how they get so absorbed in taking photos of the parrots that they forget to shut their car doors, or leave a sandwich lying beside them.
They work in gangs—one bird coming in close to pose for pictures, while the others circle in from behind to ransack the vehicle.
We knew this, and had taken appropriate precautions. There were three of us and three of them. We should have been safe.
But, of course, we wanted pictures—you simply can’t not take pictures of them, no matter how many times you’ve seen them. We all crouched down beside the van to snap our photos. That’s when it happened. I was focused on one kea, and another came up behind me and bit me on the bottom. Cheeky bastard!
But I got a photo.