Outside the city limits of Dunedin, New Zealand on the tip of the Otago Peninsula lies the only mainland breeding colony of Royal Albatross in the world! Ever since I saw David Attenborough sitting only feet away from these majestic creatures, I have wanted to witness the adorable courtship of the Royal Albatross for myself, and I finally got the opportunity.
Meandering roads over green hilly landscape finally lands you on Harrington Point, the location of the Royal Albatross Centre. This location is not only home to the Albatross but a considerably sized nesting colony of rare and protected red-billed gulls. It is the only location in New Zealand that the red-bill population is not declining, so kudos to the centre!
Witnessing the colony up close can only be done by guided tour, and it is absolutely worth it. A short hike leading up to the viewing platform, was accompanied not only by our lovely guide but also a few albatross gliding with their 3 meter wingspans overhead.
Arriving at the viewing platform, we were handed binoculars and instructed to stay quiet as courting and nesting behaviors were in full swing below. Albatross mate for life, and part of how they find their soul mate is through a sort of dance, but also through flirting, which to me looks more like pestering. The courting behavior is quite the sight to behold, and words do not do it justice so here is a video and a few snapshots I captured during our visit.