Located at Fort Taiaroa in the Otago Peninsula, Royal Albatross Centre is the world’s only mainland Royal Albatross colony. At the centre, one can see these magnificent seabirds in its natural environment.
This wildlife sanctuary is also a reserve for this giant albatross to court, lay eggs and raise their chicks. Apart from albatross, the beach at the centre is also where the Blue Penguins swim ashore at dusk every day.
Royal Albatross Centre offers various guided tours to see the seabirds, penguins and other wildlife in their natural habitats. While at the centre, we booked a Classic Tour to see the albatross and Penguin Viewing Tour to see the Blue Penguins.
For the Classic Tour, we got an exclusive tour as there were only 2 of us :). The one hour tour started with an introductory story of the Royal Albatross followed by a short movie on the seabirds narrated by Sir David Attenborough.
We were then taken to a purpose built observatory to see these magnificent creatures in their natural surroundings. Binoculars are provided so that one can have a closer view of these seabirds.
As the eggs have hatched, we saw a few fluffy chicks in their nests. We were also fortunate to see a few of these majestic Royal Albatross gliding past the observatory with their three-metre wingspan spread out.
While waiting for the Penguin Viewing Tour, we had dinner at the Albatross Cafe which has a selection from the cabinet and the kitchen.
There were more people signed up for the Penguin Viewing Tour that evening. Similar to Royal Albatross tour, the evening tour started with a short introduction to the Blue Penguin, the world’s smallest penguin.
Then the group was led down to Pilots Beach to a purpose built viewing platform to await the penguins coming ashore. It wasn’t long before the first raft of penguins returned to shore.
The first group of 6 creatures looked a bit clumsy as they made their way out of the water. Once on land the work their way up to their burrows and came just a few feet from the lighted viewing platform. One even went under the platform!
These little creatures are very small and only about 30cm tall. But they are really cute! Altogether we saw about 12 penguins that night.
Totally enjoyed the 2 tours as it was truly an amazing experience seeing these animals in their natural habitats.