Not only is Dunedin home to one of the country’s top yellow-eyed penguin conservation reserves, but it is also home to the only mainland royal albatross breeding colony in the world. And you can visit both of them.
Fact: Dunedin is the sister city to Edinburgh, Scotland, and their names mean the same thing (Dunedin is its Gaelic form). Fact: Dunedin boasts startling waters, charming buildings and spectacular views. Fact: You should definitely stop in Dunedin along your New Zealand nature tour to spot some of its fantastic southern bird life.
Weave your way up along Dunedin's coast, past Larnach Castle, to visit Penguin Place. On a private sheep farm filled with hundreds of native flora lies the conservation reserve first started in 1985 to help save the adorable yellow-eyed penguin. At Penguin Place they help to breed the penguins, as well as care for sick and injured ones – not to mention their massive efforts to keep pests away. You can visit this fantastic place all year round and take a guided walking tour through a network of hidden trenches and hides, giving you clear view of the penguins and their shy antics without disturbing them.
Just five minutes further up the road is your next bird stop, the Royal Albatross Centre. Both local Maori culture and fascinating views of the seabirds themselves are available here from the victors' centre and observatory. The former is a great starting point, offering stories and legends of the Maori people who once lived here, as well as a souvenir shop and cafe. However, just a short walk away is the Richdale Observatory and your chance to spot some 200 royal albatross birds nesting in the area. As the world's largest seabird, the albatross spends up to 85 per cent of its life on the ocean, and the breeding ground here at Dunedin is the only mainland breeding colony in the world! That means you get to take home some photos that you just can't get anywhere else.