The Royal Albatross Centre is nestled at the foot of Taiaroa Head in Ōtepoti (Dunedin), at one with its environment. Step into the foyer dominated by Poutokomanawa, a carved pole telling the history of the Māori people of the headland. Settle back for an introduction of the Northern Royal Albatross, narrated by Natural History New Zealand. Your guide will take you through the bird’s fascinating story.
From the Royal Albatross Centre, it’s a short walk up to the Observatory for the privilege of seeing the greatest of all seabirds. Wander through the McMillan Gallery and learn more of the history and wildlife of the area. Enjoy a snack or meal at the Royal Albatross Café and look out for a memento – you’ll want to remember the day you met the Royals of Taiaroa!
Experience a tour of the diverse features of Otago Peninsula and Taiaroa Head, an area unique in the world for the variety and richness of the bird and marine life found there. Alongside this is the profound human heritage of settlement and use, from the days of Māori fortification to the present.
Taiaroa Head and Dunedin’s Royal Albatross Centre can be experienced as part of our peninsula package tours, combining the many great attractions of the Otago Peninsula.
THE ROYAL ALBATROSS CENTRE STORY
In 1967 the Otago Peninsula Trust, a charitable trust, was established for the purpose of protecting and enhancing peninsula flora and fauna. The first albatross observatory was built 1972 on the headland and a converted Otago Harbour Board cottage was used as the visitor centre.
In 1983, the Richdale Albatross Observatory was opened for albatross viewing. By 1986, a new access tunnel was built across the top of the headland from outside the colony, to allow access into the underground tunnels and gun pit. Displays were set up in the underground magazine areas and the new facility opened to guided groups in 1987. In 1989, HRH Princess Anne officially opened the Royal Albatross Centre.
Today, Pukekura / Taiaroa Head is a successful Wildlife Reserve, managed by the Department of Conservation and Te Poari a Pukekura Management Group. In addition to approximately 250 albatross, it is also home to over 20 other wildlife species, including some 4,000 red-billed gulls and colonies of Spotted Shag, the rare Otago Shag, Royal Spoonbills and hundreds of New Zealand Fur Seals.
OTAGO PENINSULA TRUST
New Zealand’s first private charitable conservation trust (registered in 1967) has an impressive record of achievement. It is managed by a voluntary Board of Trustees.
- The stimulation of public interest in and care of the beauty, history and character of the Otago Peninsula.
- The preservation of the natural attractions of the area and the protection of the flora and fauna of the area.
- The development of tourist attractions, public and recreational services so that the public may obtain maximum use and enjoyment of the area in a way that will not detract from or destroy its beauty or character.
- The promotion of knowledge of and interest in the objects of the Trust by meetings, exhibitions, educational courses and all other forms of instruction and publicity.
To enable its objectives, the Otago Peninsula Trust operates the following properties and businesses:
- Royal Albatross Centre – Home to the world’s only mainland Royal Albatross breeding colony
- Fort Taiaroa – World’s only fully restored award-winning Armstrong Disappearing Gun, in a secret fort built in the 1880s
- Glenfalloch Woodland Garden & Restaurant – One of Dunedin’s top restaurants, amidst a lush historic garden
- Fletcher House – Aotearoa’s only fully restored Edwardian villa, open to the public.
- Education Programmes – Inspiring the next generation of guardians and kaitiaki
- The Lime Kiln – An iconic Otago Peninsula historic site