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Royal Albatross Centre

How would you like to view a giant albatross with three-metre wingspans soaring by? Patient parents incubating eggs? Huge fluffy chicks waiting expectantly for their parental feeding? Royal Albatross chick shenanigans? You’ll find all these sights and more at one of New Zealand’s best heritage and wildlife hotspots.

Kia ora, and welcome to the Royal Albatross Centre! The centre is located in the nature reserve of Taiaroa Head at the end of the Otago Peninsula, just a 42-minute drive from Dunedin City. This region is famed for its incredible natural beauty and abundant wildlife, and is often referred to as the heritage and wildlife capital of New Zealand.

In Dunedin, the only of New Zealand’s cities to have a real castle, we invite you to meet the “Royals” of the Otago Peninsula – the Northern Royal Albatross. Visit the Royal Albatross Centre to gain an insight into the Royal Albatross breeding colony at the world’s only mainland breeding colony. Enjoy free entry to educational displays and join guided tours to the exclusive observatory on the nature reserve at the historic Fort Taiaroa.

Famed naturalist, David Attenborough of the BBC, stated that “Otago Peninsula and Taiaroa Head is a unique and extraordinary place. It is a place that every visitor to Dunedin should see”.  So, take Sir David’s advice and join one of the wildlife tours offered by the Royal Albatross Centre, Dunedin City.

Visit this special place for a close-up of adorable New Zealand penguins, the huge Royal Albatross, and some of the twenty different species of birds that inhabit the albatross colony at Taiaroa Head.

keys on Omega keytag sml

Keytag Bonus:

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

 

Experience Royal albatrosses, the world's largest seabird, up close on a nature tour.

Experience Royal albatrosses, the world's largest seabird, up close on a nature tour (Photo credit: Stephen Jaquiery)

The Royal Albatross Colony tour is a one-hour guided tour that includes a visit to the world’s only mainland breeding colony of Northern Royal Albatross. Access to the breeding ground at Taiaroa Head is restricted, so take the opportunity of booking this fantastic tour at the Royal Albatross Centre to experience this marvel of nature.

At the centre, 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. Then, a short walk up to Taiaroa Head lets you observe these magnificent birds from an exclusive observatory. 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 them in a natural setting. Depending on the time of year and the weather conditions, you may observe the Royal Albatross throughout its breeding cycle. Watch as the albatross court, lay eggs, look after tiny chicks, youngsters-being youngsters, build nests and note their impressive flying prowess. The Royal Albatross Centre tours are one of the most popular things to do in Dunedin and will give a fascinating insight into the life in a Royal Albatross colony.

As well as Albatross, the Otago Peninsula is home to Blue Penguin colonies and over 20 other species of birdlife.

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 90-minute guided tour reveals the fascinating history of the area, which in the fourteenth century was a small Maori camp and later home to the Kai Tahu tribe. After a short film and presentation on the albatross breeding cycle, you’ll walk to the exclusive observatory for albatross sightseeing before continuing through the historic Fort Taiaroa underground tunnels. 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 & Blue Penguins at Pukekura also offers an exciting evening tour to observe the Kororā or little Blue Penguin. This diminutive creature, the smallest of its species in the world, spends the day fishing out on the ocean. Then, as dusk falls, they gather together in platoons close to the shore of Pilots Beach before heading inland to roost or feed their young. You will have the opportunity to observe the spectacle from an interactive walkway with a purpose-built viewing platform at the centre. These guided penguin tours occur every evening as the penguins head home to their burrows dug into the cliff face. This Dunedin penguin tour is a unique and moving New Zealand-only experience that the whole family can enjoy.

With a wingspan of over three metres, a royal albatross flight is an unmissable Otago sight.

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

The Royal Albatross Centre is operated by the Otago Peninsula Trust, the first private charitable conservation trust in New Zealand. Taiaroa Head is located 32-km from Dunedin, and viewing the Royal Albatross breeding colony is open to the public year-round. All excess funds are used to enhance and protect the delicate environment of the Otago Peninsula. Enjoy a delicious snack at the coffee shop or purchase something unique from the gift shop. Take a camera on your trip to get some great wildlife shots, but remember that flash photography is not allowed. Wear warm clothing and make your booking early because tours at the Royal Albatross Centre are one of the most fun things to do in Dunedin and fill up fast.

If you’re looking for an easy and affordable way to explore Dunedin – the wildlife and heritage capital of New Zealand, 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!