Royal Albatross Center and Fort Taiaroa Tour
Dunedin, New Zealand
- Royal Albatross Center: This little-known seabird with the huge wingspan is revealed in a short film narrated by naturalist Sir David Attenborough, and in viewing areas by their habitat – their only mainland breeding colony.
- Fort Taiaroa: Learn how the tip of the peninsula went from Maori fortified settlement (pa) to an underground fort in the 1880s, then guarded against Japanese invasion in WWII.
- Disappearing gun: Walk through barracks, underground tunnels and ammo spaces to the world's only fully restored Armstrong disappearing gun, still in its original strategic position.
About This Dunedin Tour
The tip of Otago Peninsula, known as Taiaroa Head, is home to centuries-old myths and legends, outdated military technology, and a timeless wonder of nature that no one can explain.
The Maori believe this part of their world was discovered by the explorer they call Maui, who used it as a resting spot. In time, Maori settled on the peninsula and established the fortified settlement (pa) of Pukekura under famous chief Taiaroa, after whom the headland is now named.
It was at this pa that the local tribe signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, New Zealand's founding document. It was also here that New Zealanders built Fort Taiaroa in 1885, fearing the possibility of a Russian invasion.
The fort still has its Armstrong Disappearing Gun, designed to use its recoil to sink back into its loading pit, out of sight of the enemy. It was the most advanced artillery technology of 1886.
Today, the fort's old observation post overlooks part of the Royal Albatross breeding colony. No one knows why the species chose to breed there – all its other colonies are on islands. Maybe, like Maui, they thought it looked like a good place to rest. But they stayed. And since the first Taiaroa albatross chick took flight there in 1938, over 500 chicks have followed it.
Mystery, history, and artillery. All packed into an hour and a half.
The Russians aren't coming
When Fort Taiaroa was built in the mid-1880s, it didn't follow traditional fort design of the era. Rather than create an imposing structure in the classic stone fort style, Taiaroa's designers hid gun emplacements within earth parapets. Advances in optics had improved the aim of naval gunners by bringing the sharp outline of stone forts into focus; blending into the surrounding landscape made Fort Taiaroa and its guns harder to spot. But the Russians never attacked, and the guns were never fired in anger.
Please make your way to 1260 Harington Point Rd, Harington Point to begin your adventure.
Bring small coins for the bathroom. Take a light jacket or rain coat for the weather.
The amount of walking is at the traveler's discretion while visiting the attraction. Varying surfaces will be encountered during your tour.
Scenic, Family Friendly, Wilderness/Wildlife
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated moderate. Full participation may require extended periods of walking over even and uneven surfaces, steep terrain and/or water activity in a slight current. There may be steps, inclines, cobblestone surfaces, and extended periods of standing. Participants with physical limitations should take this into account.
Suitable for all ages.
Non-refundable if canceled within 24 hours of requested services.
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