An experience like no other
Dunedin’s Taiaroa Head offers a wildlife encounter like no other.
Ever experienced a giant albatross sharing your space? Explored a hidden fort? Meet the world’s smallest penguin? Dunedin is famous as the wildlife capital of New Zealand and offers unique experiences not available anywhere else in the world. Situated just 45 minutes from Dunedin, at the tip of stunningly beautiful Otago Peninsula, are the world’s only mainland royal albatross breeding colony and the world’s only fully restored 1886 Armstrong Disappearing Gun. Both these attractions are iconic Dunedin experiences at Pukekura/Taiaroa Head, drawing visitors from all over the world. Over 100,000 visitors each year visit the Royal Albatross Centre to view and learn about the albatross and the over other 20 species that call the headland home. Jaws drop as visitors are astounded by the size of the albatross. A three metre wingspan has to be seen to be believed as the magnificent birds glide silently by, enjoying the wind currents that make Taiaroa Head such an excellent site for albatross to raise their huge fluffy chicks from Summer to Spring. 2016 saw the rise of celebrity Royalcam chick Moana, which spent eight months growing up in front of a live webcam. Her journey was viewed over 600,000 times by followers from more than 100 countries and tears were shed when she finally fledged, not to return for around five years. More cameras are planned for 2017 to follow the trials and tribulations of new celebrity albatross chicks and encourage keener interest in their story. Summer sees the majestic birds well into their breeding cycle as they nest and prepare to raise their chicks throughout the next year. The colony boasts a purpose-built observatory where visitors are able to watch the albatross in its natural habitat without disturbing the small colony. The only mainland royal albatross breeding colony in the world consists of about 250 birds with just over 60 breeding pairs, the birds breed every two years, with a yearlong break to recover. Thirty eggs were laid in 2016, with 26 chicks successfully fledged (the record number is 27 fledglings). Pests aren’t the only hazard. Each Summer water is trucked in and a irrigation system keeps the adults and chicks cool on very hot days as the albatross can suffer fatal heat stroke. Albatross at Taiaroa Head are very fortunate to have their own dedicated team of Department of Conservation rangers, as well as the support of the Otago Peninsula Trust, a private charitable trust, which has run tours here since 1972. Taiaroa Head is also home to a wide range of other bird and marine life. Albatross, seals, cormorants and penguins have all colonised the headland. Visitors can see a colony of the rare Otago Shags from
the albatross observatory and watch many of the resident birds fly by as they raise their young nearby. Within the protected area is the only breeding colony of redbilled gulls not in decline in New Zealand. It’s little know that red-billed gulls are as endangered as the yellow-eyed penguin. In the evening, below the albatross colony with its huge inhabitants, people can meet Korora, Little Blue Penguins (the world’s smallest penguins) in their natural habitat. Watching them scurry home to their cliff side burrows at the end of the day is a delightful experience. There is great viewing from the purpose-built observation platform and boardwalk at the beach. The tour number is capped and this provides the most natural way to view the little penguins without disturbing them. Blue Penguins Pukekura is operated as a conservation kaitiakitanga partnership between the Royal Albatross Centre, the Otago Peninsula Trust and the Pukekura Trust. The increased financial support from visitors to the area has provided the penguin population with the chance to flourish thanks to the increased level of predator control and the construction of nest-boxes required to successfully raise their young free from harm. Penguin numbers have dramatically increased to over 200 breeding pairs thanks to the hard work of all of the stakeholders involved in
“Visiting Taiaroa Head is one of those bucket list places that richly rewards travellers and leaves them marvelling.”
the Blue Penguins Pukekura project. The penguin population has been growing 11 percent annually. Visitors can also learn another side to the wildlife paradise. The areas also boasts a rich cultural history and is a significant military site. Taiaroa Head has beenfortified since the earliest Maori settlement of the region. In the 1880s, Fort Taiaroa was installed to counter the threat of Russian Invasion and the fort continued to be used until the end of World War Two. Nowadays, guided tours allow visitors to explore the historic Victorian Fort and see the world’s only fully restored 1886 Armstrong disappearing gun hidden beneath the peace of the albatross colony. Visiting Taiaroa Head is one of those bucket list places that richly rewards travellers and leaves them marvelling. GTNZ
Olveston is a must visit for lovers of arts and culture. ‘Olveston’ was the home of businessman, collector and philanthropist David Theomin. Designed by the English architect, Sir Ernest George, the house was built with every modern convenience, including central heating, a gas generator for electricity, a shower in each bathroom and heated towel rails, an internal telephone system and service lift. David Theomin was a passionate collector and the house was extensively and lavishly furnished with exotic artefacts and furniture, prized artworks and antiques, carpets and rugs, ceramics, bronze statues and weaponry all purchased during the families many travels around the world. Inherited by Theomin’s daughter Dorothy in 1933, she continuing the family tradition of collecting and philanthropy, supporting many of the artistic and community causes championed by her parents including Dunedin Public Art Gallery and the Plunket Society. Following Dorothy’s death in 1966, Olveston, complete with the original contents, was gifted to the people of Dunedin and opened as a house museum the following year. Olveston is a time capsule, as little has changed inside the house since it was occupied as a family home. A feast for the eyes, a tour of Olveston is for those who appreciate (or aspire to) the finer things in life. Set within a 1-acre ‘Garden of National Significance’, at 42 Royal Terrace, Olveston is within walking distance from the Octagon. Visiting inside the house is by guided tour only, which reveal the extraordinary lives of the Theomin family and allow a glimpse of one of New Zealand’s wealthiest families with strong artistic and community focus. Guided tours commence daily at 9.30am, 10.45am, 12noon, 1.30pm, 2.45pm and 4pm. Pre-booked group tours are available at any time (8 people or more, 8am until 8pm, daily). Group tours are available with English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin and Cantonese speaking guides. Morning and Afternoon high-teas options and evening drinks and canapes are available for groups, please contact the email@example.com or +64 (03)-4773320 for more details. For details of other activities and events held at the house throughout the year, visit www.olveston.co.nz.