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Visiting the Royal Albatross Centre

The Otago Peninsula is famed for its incredible natural beauty and attracts visitors from around the world. It is often referred to as the wildlife capital of New Zealand due to the abundant creatures which reside in this spectacular location. Famed naturalist, David Attenborough of the BBC, states that “Otago Peninsula and Taiaroa Head is a unique and very special place. It is a place that every visitor to Dunedin should see”.  So, take Sir David’s advice and join one of the Dunedin wildlife tours offered by the Royal Albatross Centre to get a close-up look at penguins, albatrosses, and some of the twenty different species of birds which inhabit the area.

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Receive a 10% discount upon presentation of your Omega keytag!

royal albatross

The world’s largest seabird, experience Royal albatrosses up close on a Royal Albatross Centre nature tour (Photo credit: Stephen Jaquiery)

The Albatross Colony Tour is a one-hour guided tour that includes a visit to the only breeding colony of Northern Royal Albatrosses found on the mainland, anywhere in the world. Access to the breeding ground at Taiaroa Head is restricted, so take the opportunity to join this amazing tour and experience this marvel of nature. You will begin by learning about the life cycle and habits of the Northern Royal Albatross from a short documentary film with narration by Natural History New Zealand. A short walk up to Taiaroa Head gives visitors the opportunity to observe these majestic birds from a comfortable purpose-built viewing area. The one-way glass and the sound dampening system ensure that the birds are not disturbed by visitors, and offer a unique opportunity to view wild birds in a natural setting. Depending on the time of year and the weather conditions, you may observe adults looking after small chicks, youngsters-being youngsters, courtship displays, nest building and their impressive flying prowess. The Royal Albatross viewing tour is one of the most popular things to do in Dunedin and will give a fascinating insight into the life of the colony.

blue penguin

As well as Albatross, the Otago Peninsula is home to Blue Penguin colonies and over 20 other species of birdlife (Photo credit: Stephen Jaquiery)

You can extend this tour with a visit to the historic site of Pukukura/Taiaroa Head. This very popular 11/2-hour guided tour lets you discover the fascinating history of the area which in the fourteenth century was a small Maori camp and later home to the Kai Tahu tribe. The Treaty of Waitangi was signed here in 1840, and in 1864 there was a lighthouse to guide ships into Otago Harbour. During the Second World War, it was an important defensive base, and you can still see an Armstrong Disappearing Gun in its original emplacement.

The Royal Albatross Centre also offers an exciting evening tour to observe the Kororā or little Blue Penguin. This diminutive creature, the smallest of its species, spends the day fishing out on the ocean. As dusk falls, they gather together in platoons close to the shore of Pilots Beach, before heading inland to roost or feed their chicks. You will have the opportunity to observe the spectacle from an interactive walkway with a special viewing platform. These guided penguin tours take place every evening when the penguins can be seen heading home to their burrows dug into the cliff face. This penguin tour in Dunedin is a unique and moving experience which the whole family can enjoy.

albatross in flight

With a wingspan of over three metres, watching the graceful flight of a royal albatrosses is an unmissable Otago sight. (Photo credit: Chris McCormack)

The Royal Albatross Centre is a charitable trust located 32-km from Dunedin and is open to the public year-round. All excess funds are used to enhance and protect the delicate environment of the peninsula. Enjoy a delicious snack at the coffee shop or purchase something unique from the gift shop. Be sure to take a camera along to get some great wildlife shots, but remember that flash photography is not allowed. Wear warm clothing and book early because these tours are some of the most fun things to do in Dunedin, and fill up fast.

If you’re a visitor looking for an easy and affordable way to explore the region, rental cars are available from Omega’s Queenstown Airport depot.

 

keys on Omega keytag sml

Keytag Bonus:

Receive a 10% discount upon presentation of your Omega keytag!