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Golden Anniversary @ Albatross Centre

50 years ago, Flares, Flower Children and happy hippies would have greeted visitors to the Royal Albatross Centre.  February 23rd 2022 celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first albatross tour at what has now become a World Class Visitor Attraction.  The Otago Peninsula Trust have not let the red light stop their golden anniversary celebration but deferred most associated activities until later in the year.

CEO, Otago Peninsula Trust, Robyn McDonald says “The successful achievement of this milestone, is an accolade to the vision of the Trustees 50 years ago and the many members of the team who have hosted visitors and developed the tours for last half century”

Ecotourism Manager for the Otago Peninsula Trust Hoani Langsbury says “Anyone arriving at the Royal Albatross Centre on the day will get a 50% discount on their tour.  Weather forecast for the day is Southerlies in the morning, Northeasterlies in the afternoon, prediction for Albatross – Great day for flying!”

On February 23rd 1972 Minister of Tourism the Hon D Highet officially opened the Albatross Colony lookout for tours saying “Thanks to collaboration between the Otago Peninsula Trust, the Otago Harbour Board, the local branch of the Royal Society, the Department of Lands and Survey and the Department of Internal Affairs, agreement has been reached so that all members of the public who wish to see the birds may now do so from this very fine observatory. At the same time this unique natural resource is preserved for future generations”.

The colony had been closed to the public because of some cases of vandalism and some unintentional interference with breeding birds, including eggs being smashed and the giant birds being shot at.

Lance Richdale, the revered ‘seabird genius’ who camped in a tent to ensure the first fledging of an albatross at Taiaroa Head in 1938 was the Guest of Honour that day. The Royal Albatross Centre has the film Lance took of the first albatross chick growing up showing in a dedicated display to this environmental champion.

Long supporters of the albatross colony, the five Rotary Clubs of Dunedin undertook to provide the observatory building as a combined Rotary Golden Jubilee Project. $2763 was raised, followed by an Evening Star led appeal for the remaining $1500, printing a list of donors each day. In 1951 the Rotary Club of Dunedin had raised $1250 to support the appointment of a Wildlife Ranger.

240 people took a tour in 1972 with the Albatross Colony reaching its one millionth visitor in 2011. Pre-COVID, the Royal Albatross Centre annually hosted well over 100,000 visitors with 30-40% of those visitors taking a tour. Operating an iconic visitor attraction on the headland can be challenging as Robyn notes “As a charitable trust it costs a huge amount to fund the free visitor centre, with COVID providing new challenges, with low visitor numbers and uncertainties around the return of international tourists.

However, the Otago Peninsula Trust is dedicated to ensuring that we preserve and enhance Otago Peninsula for the next 50 years for all to enjoy.  We appreciate the help of all our supporters over the last 50 years, including the huge contribution from service clubs like Rotary and Jaycee to projects including the opening of the Royal Albatross Centre.”

Otago Peninsula Trust, Dunedin’s pioneering ecotourism operator, was formed in 1967 by the Dunedin Jaycee Chapter who wanted to see Dunedin flourish and had identified Otago Peninsula as the major asset for the city. The Trust’s purpose is to protect and enhance Otago Peninsula, allowing visitors to enjoy the peninsula wildlife, with a very strong emphasis on conservation. The Trust was unique at the time – New Zealand’s first private charitable conservation trust.


Hoani Langsbury. Otago Peninsula Trust Ecotourism Manager.  027 252 2876

Chris McCormack. Operations Manager, Royal Albatross Centre 027 381 8724

Robyn McDonald. CEO Otago Peninsula Trust 021 341 258


Otago Peninsula Trust was formed in 1967 and was New Zealand’s first private charitable conservation Trust.  Trust objectives are:

  • 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 achieve its objectives the Trust oversees the business operations and marketing of:

  • The Royal Albatross Centre at Pukekura, Otago Peninsula, World Class Visitor Attraction
  • Historic Fort Taiaroa, hidden underground fort with restored 1889 disappearing gun
  • Fletcher House, Edwardian villa built in 1909 by Sir James Fletcher (management contract)
  • Pukekura Blue Penguins, offering evening penguin viewing tours at Pilots Beach, Pukekura, Otago Peninsula (joint venture)
  • Glenfalloch Woodland Gardens open daily to the public

Glenfalloch Restaurants Weddings, functions and conferences. Daytime casual dining Wednesday to Sunday

Education Programmes: Interactive student focused LEOTC in natural environments, in person and online.


a group of people standing next to a man in a suit and tie

Opening Colony Gate 1972
Ranger Alan Wright opens the gate, foreground Dr Lance Richdale, Left T K Sidey, Deputy Mayor Dunedin. Centre Minister of Internal Affairs Hon D A Highet. ODT 23.2.72

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