New Zealand’s cheeky alpine parrots are returning to Coronet Peak.
Native kea have been spotted at the skifield for the first time in many years and the protected parrots – renowned for their destructive habits – are already making their presence felt.
Last Sunday, the Coronet Express chairlift was closed for three hours after one of the birds ate through a wire on the recently-installed new rope positioning system.
“It’s an unfortunate thing and it took some time to fix – it’s very unusual,” skifield boss Hamish McCrostie says.
Damaged wires have also been spotted recently on some of the mountain’s snowguns – most likely caused over summer.
“We’re only just starting to pick that up now that we’re going through and having a look at them all.”
The cheeky birds are common at The Remarkables, where NZSki specially protects wiring on all equipment.
“We’ve never had to do that here so it’s a surprise for us,” McCrostie says. “We’ll have to look over summer to put all the wires into conduits so the keas can’t get at them.”
Only a few birds were spotted over summer and they’re keeping a low profile during the day – “but they’re certainly damaging things”, he says.
“It’s not like The Remarkables, where they sit round the tables during lunchtime. We’re not seeing them to that degree.
“I guess as their species is protected and their population grows, they start pushing their range out.”
Skiers and boarders were dealt a double blow with lift problems when they went up Coronet Peak last Sunday morning.
While the Coronet Express quad was under repair, the six-seater Greengates Express was also down for about three hours due to an “electrical relay” issue, McCrostie says.
“The digital control didn’t actually indicate what the problem was, like it should … so we had to start at the start and work backwards.
“It was fairly gutting for us and everybody else but everyone was understanding of the situation.”