These are the main attraction for most people visiting Albatross Encounter: the great albatrosses.
The great albatrosses are seabirds in the genus Diomedea in the albatross family. The genus Diomedea formerly included all albatrosses except the sooty albatrosses, but in 1996 the genus was split, with the mollymawks and the North Pacific albatrosses both being elevated to separate genera. The great albatrosses themselves form two species complexes:
- The wandering albatrosses
- The royal albatrosses
The great albatrosses are predominantly white in plumage as adults, with birds becoming whiter as they age.
The two royal albatrosses (and the larger, older male wandering albatrosses) are totally white-bodied. While adult females and younger animals of the other species have dark pencilling marks on the edges of their feathers. Generally the smaller species or subspecies and the juveniles have more dark brown colour.
Below are the five varieties of Great Albatross that can be seen off Kaikoura.
Recent Bird Sightings
With around 150 species of birds recorded here so far, Kaikoura is one of New Zealand's top birding destinations. The wonderful array of seabirds just offshore are the jewel in the crown with five varieties of Great Albatross, nine varieties of the smaller Lesser Albatross, seven varieties of Shearwaters, fourteen Petrel varieties, and several other seabird varies such as Shags, Prions, Penguins, Gulls and Terns.