Wildlife Tours

Otago Peninsula Tours | Royal Albatross Centre

A visit to Dunedin is not complete without taking in the outstanding natural beauty and wildlife of the Otago Peninsula and the Royal Albatross Centre.

The Royal Albatross Centre provides wildlife and cultural tours of Taiaroa Head where you can visit the world’s only mainland breeding colony of Royal Albatross, the historic Fort Taiaroa and see the Little Blue Penguin colony at Pilots Beach. People come from all over the world to enjoy the spectacular views on the Otago Peninsula and together with its 20 km long harbour, is the home of an abundance of magnificent world famous wildlife. The Otago Peninsula tours provided by the Royal Albatross Centre give you up close viewing interactions with all manner of seabirds and mammals.

Discover Dunedin’s best wildlife tours – see more information about the our tours below. We hope to see you at the Royal Albatross Centre soon! 

Booking on tour is highly recommended as spaces are limited!

There is no self-guided tour options or public access into the albatross breeding area/ nature reserve. 

 

OUR TOUR OPTIONS:

Unique Taiaroa Tour (90 minutes) – Combination of – Albatross + Fort Taiaroa Tour

Adult   $62
Child    $20 (5 – 17 years)
Family  $134 (2 adults, up to 3 children)

A 90 minute fully guided tour; short film, presentation on the albatross breeding cycle and short walk up the hill for viewing from our exclusive glassed observatory to view the albatross and then continuing through the underground fort tunnels to see our fully restored Armstrong Disappearing Gun and learn all about the fascinating history of Taiaroa Head.

*Albatross Viewing: The albatross are wild and therefore freely come and go at their own pleasure. From mid-September to mid-November 80% of tours will see albatross, but this is not guaranteed through this time.

Prices valid until 30 September 2021

Albatross Tour (60 minute)

Adult – $52
Child – $15 (5 – 17 years)
Family – $114 (2 adults, up to 3 children)

A 60 minute fully guided tour; short film, presentation on the albatross breeding cycle, short walk up the hill for viewing from our exclusive glassed observatory to view the albatross and any other wildlife.

*Albatross Viewing: The albatross are wild and therefore freely come and go at their own pleasure. From mid-September to mid-November 80% of tours will see albatross, but this is not guaranteed through this time.

Prices valid until 30 September 2021

Fort Taiaroa (30 minute) 

Adult – $26
Child 
– $10 ( 5 – 17 years)
Family – $62 (2 adults, up to 3 children)

A 30 min fully guided tour; a short walk up the hill to Fort Taiaroa, continuing through the underground tunnels to talk about the human and military history of the headland. A highlight being the world’s only fully restored Armstrong Disappearing Gun.

*Viewing: This tour does not include any albatross or wildlife viewing.

Prices valid until 30 September 2021

Blue Penguins Pukekura (75 minutes)

Adult – $35.00       

Child – $10.00 (5 – 17 years of age)

Family – $80.00 (2 adults up to 3 children)

Discover Kororā, the Little Blue Penguin, the world’s smallest penguin, in their natural habitat – scurrying up to their cliff-face burrows at Pilots Beach on the Otago Peninsula. After a day at sea, the penguins congregate in groups known as “rafts” not far offshore where they often can be heard vocalising – usually short, loud squawks. At dusk penguins come ashore and make their way to their nests where they feed their chicks or roost.

Our Penguin Platform has lighting provided, no FLASH photography allowed. We hold up to a maximum of 90 visitors on our viewing platform.

Prices valid until 30 September 2021

The Royal Albatross Centre is owned and operated by NZ’s first private charitable conservation trust Otago Peninsula Trust. Your help and funds raised go to projects which protect and enhance the environment and wildlife of Dunedin’s Otago Peninsula.

  • When are you open? We’re Open Daily: 10:15am, first scheduled tour 10:30am Closed Christmas Day 25 December
  • What might I see at what time of the year? Albatross have a two year breeding cycle. Check out what you might see while visiting Albatross and Penguin Lifecycles 2018
  • How can I best plan my day? Here’s some ideas to make the best use of your time Itinerary ideas on Otago Peninsula
  • 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 18-21 people per tour, so space is limited.
  • Have you got a handy brochure? Find it here Royal Albatross-Blue Penguins Pukekura Brochure Otago Peninsula Trust 2018
  • Can I get a ride from the city? We’ve got our own bus –Take our Tiki Tours to Albatross and Penguins (brochure 2017-2018)
  • Can you guarantee viewing and flying? 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.
  • Is there much walking? A reasonable level of fitness is required to walk from the Centre to the observatory and the fortifications – its a five minute walk up a hill to the inside observato ry If you are taking the Unique Tour there are a two small 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. On the penguin tour there are steps and a 150 metre walk down to the beach and back.
  • Have you got Disability Access?  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.
  • Do we get to go on the albatross reserve? 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.
  • What should I wear? 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.
  • How many come come on a family pass? 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.
  • Is there a charge just to visit the centre? 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).
  • How far are is the Royal Albatross Centre from Dunedin city? We’re a 32km scenic drive from Dunedin city centre. Allow about 45-50 minutes and check for roadworks as Dunedin is building a cycleway along the peninsula road. Plan to be 15 minutes before your booked tour.
  • Is there public transport to the centre? The closest public transport to the Centre terminates at Harington Point, 3.5kms from the Royal Albatross Centre. Transportation is available with out Tiki Tour options.
  • What other wildlife is at Taiaroa Head that I might see? The Northern Royal Albatross  is just one of over20+ species of bird and animal which makes its home on Otago Peninsula’s Taiaroa Head. You might see…Living at Pukekura:
    Native/Endemic: Spotted Shag, Royal Spoonbill, Little Shag, NZ Fur Seal, Oystercatcher, Red-billed gull, Northern Royal Albatross, Black-backed Gull, Sooty Shearwater, Fantail, Stewart Island Shag, Little Blue Penguins, Paradise Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Welcome Swallow, Wax Eyes, Grey Warbler. Introduced: Little Owl, Starlings, Blackbird, Hedge Sparrow, Skylark, Song ThrushVisits Pukekura:
    Australian Gannet, Giant Petrel, NZ White-capped Albatross, Bullers Mollymawk, Australasian Harrier, Yellow-eyed Penguin, White-faced Heron, White-fronted Tern, NZ Sea Lion, Elephant Seal.
  • Can I take photos? Yes – lots! Wildlife viewing offers excellent photographic opportunities. We ask that  NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY is permitted on our tours. Please help us to be respectful of the welfare of the wildlife.
  • Can I fly my Drone? No – Use of Drones are NOT permitted around Taiaroa Head reserve; this includes the Royal Albatross Centres Car Park, Pilots Beach and Cliff-Face Viewing Platform. Drones are very dangerous to the birdlife and can hit and scare birds, break eggs and cause nesting to fail.
  • Why does it smell so much in Spring and Summer? The smell of guano (poo) is the smell of success! Taiaroa Head/Pukekura is an extremely precious wildlife breeding area, there can be 10,000 birds here as they breed and raise their young.
  • Can I feed the birds? No, please don’t give them food. Human food can kill the birds plus they can also get run over in the carpark if they are encouraged to be fed there, which is very sad. Please don’t chase the birds either – they are very precious to us all.
  • Can I bring my dog? No. Dogs are dangerous to birds and can kill them. Leave pets at home.
  • Can I camp here? No. The nearest campground is at Portobello. Check out the DCC website for places to camp.
  • Tour Capacity, our Unique, Albatross and Fort tours take up 18 people (including infants), Blue Penguin tour  takes a maximum 90 visitors.
  • Early tour Request, we can accommodate group bookings outside our operation of hours, e-mail reservations@albatross.org.nz
  • How can I donate to help the wildlife? Check out our Givealittle Fundraising Page
  • NO PUBLIC access 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.
  • Omega Rentals – Key Tag Bonus – see here