We’re Open Daily from 10:15am until dusk, first scheduled tour 11:00am – bookings recommended. Closed Christmas Day 25 December
Do I need to book a tour? It’s strongly advised for a few reasons. Firstly, this is the only place in the world where albatross nest on a mainland, so you don’t want to miss out! The only way to get to the observatory to have the chance to see albatross is on a guided tour. Tours are limited to 18 people per tour, so space are limited.
The Albatrosses are not in captivity. They are wild creatures. So we cannot guarantee their behaviour or sightings on any given day, most usually we have nests in sight of our observatory for most months of the year. Some times of year and some seasonal and weather variations create more suitable conditions for albatrosses to fly. Please contact us for more information prior to your visit to check what viewing is like.
A reasonable level of fitness is required to walk from the Centre to the observatory and the fortifications – its a 5-7 minute walk up a steep hill to the observatory. If you are taking the Unique Tour there are a two small steep staircases. We have mobility scooters, please give us advance notice if you’d like to use one, so we can have a staff member available.
Blue Penguins Pukekura: On the blue penguin tour there are steps and a 150 metre walk down to the viewing platform and back.
– You have until 24 hours prior to you tour time to cancel or amend your booking. Cancellations or changes after this time are non-refundable.
– In the event of a tour cancellation prior to the tour commencing (due to weather conditions), a full refund or tour re-scheduling will apply.
– In the event of your trip being affected or cancelled by COVID-19, a full refund will be issued or the option to re-schedule your visit.
– Child policy – children rates apply to school aged children 5 – 17 years of age, children 4 yrs and under are free of charge.
Our guided tour is within an observatory over the albatross nesting area, only DOC Rangers are allowed on the albatross nature reserve. A one way glass and sound deadening system is in place to minimise our disturbance to the nesting albatrosses. Photography is behind glass windows.
Taiaroa Head/ Pukekura is a nature reserve to protect the albatross and other species.
To the wildlife reserve/albatross colony, access is granted by booking on a guided tour. Bookings are essential to guarantee a place on a tour. No self-guided tour options.
How we’re keeping you safe
We are COVID-19 Safety Ready and approve by the Tourism Export Council:
If you are feeling ill or presenting symptoms of a cough, a high temperature or shortness of breath you MUST leave site immediately and seek advice from health line 0800 358 5453.
Anyone obliged to be in self isolation will be unable to visit us. We ask all visitors to use the QR contact tracing code/ app located at reception upon entering the centre or sign in.
We take up to 18 visitors to our observatory and through Fort Taiaroa. We recommend wearing a face mask to feel more comfortable during your tour with us. If in Alert Level 2, we will reduce our capacity in accordance to the social distancing rule.
Our facilities are cleaned regularly throughout the day including high touch areas. Hand sanitisers are located in the centre and facilities and we practicing good hygiene by using the washrooms to thoroughly wash your hands before entering our free information gallery and before joining our tours. All employees are required to stay home is they feel unwell.
Albatross have a two year breeding cycle. Contact our team to find out what viewing is like or check out what you might see while visiting Albatross and Penguin Lifecycles
Our centre is accessible with accessible toilets, cafe and displays we have 2 self-drive mobility carts available (limited availability), we ask visitors to contact us to book a cart and to advise the centre of any special requirements.
Weather can be very changeable as its a marine environment , the albatross and penguins choose to nest here because of its special weather. All tour options involve outdoor activity in an area where maritime weather prevails, the weather can change very quickly on the Otago Peninsula year round. Always take warm clothing and solid footwear is required. We’d advise dressing in layers, bringing warm clothes as it can get cold, especially in the evening. We have raincoats for the albatross tours, but you’ll need your own warm jackets for the penguin tour, it can get cold. Sensible shoes are strongly advised.
We are entering a nature reserve, to keep our birds healthy and protected, we do ask parents to ensure children are quiet on tour so visitors and albatross are not disturbed. Our guides may ask parents to ensure children are quiet throughout the tour if required and do reserve the right to ask parents with children to finish the tour early is not adhering.
Two adults and up to 3 school aged children (5-17 years of age) 18 + is an adult. Infants 4 and under are free on tour.
We welcome you free of charge. This includes access to our interactive gallery, Toroa cafe and gift shop. All donations to keep the centre open and help support the conservation work are very welcome – we ask that you make a small donation if you wish to use our restroom facilities – we have to buy all our water and truck it 30km (and truck the sewage back out).
We’re a 32km scenic drive from Dunedin city centre. Allow about 50-60 minutes and check for roadworks as Dunedin is building a cycleway along the peninsula road that may cause delays. Plan to be 15 minutes before your booked tour.
The closest public transport to the Centre terminates at Harington Point, 3.5kms from the Royal Albatross Centre. Public transport is not suitable as the bus does not stop or travel to the centre and requires a 30-40minute walk from Harington Point which isn’t advise due to safety as there is no footpath.
The Royal Albatross Centre is owned and operated by the Otago Peninsula Trust – NZ’s oldest not-for-profit charitable trust.
Check out our Givealittle Fundraising Page
There is no public or guided tours that access Taiaroa Head’s lighthouse. The best view of the lighthouse is from the public cliff face viewing platform on the eastern side of Taiaroa Head.
These are not valid for already discounted/ deals offered – including Mates Rate, Express Albatross Tour options.
We offer Gold Card Holders and Dunedin Resident/ Locals a 25% Discount off our Unique Taiaroa, Albatross Classic and Fort Taiaroa tours.