Royal Albatross Centre

Get close to some of New Zealand’s rarest and most spectacular birds at Taiaroa Head.

Visit the Royal Albatross Centre, the world’s only mainland royal albatross breeding colony, and marvel at these giant birds as they soar above the wild Pacific Ocean. See penguins and sea lions on the beaches around the centre and check out Fort Taiaroa to find out why this location played such an important role in the nation’s history.

Located on a long green headland at the tip of the Otago Peninsula, the Royal Albatross Centre offers a truly unique wildlife experience. Watch from the indoor viewing area as great northern royal albatrosses circle the cliffs before returning to their nests just a few metres away. If you visit in the summer after the chicks have been born you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the adults teaching them to fly. To find out more about the birds’ behaviour, take a tour and enjoy a short film that documents the existence of the albatross in Otago.

During your trip be sure to explore Fort Taiaroa. Positioned right on the end of the headland, this underground fort was built on the site of a 14th-century Maori camp. As well as being a key defensive outpost during both world wars, this spot is where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840.

The coastline that surrounds the centre is a haven for an array of animals. The most popular resident is the little blue penguin. Join a guided tour of Pilot Beach and look for the furry birds as they waddle up the beach to their nests after a day of fishing. Spot the lazy sea lions that spend their days sunbathing on the warm sand.

The Royal Albatross Centre is a 40-minute drive northeast of Dunedin. The centre is open all day through the year. Book tours over the phone or through the centre’s website.