Royal cam albatross chick
Image: Aaron Heimann | DOC

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


The votes are in and DOC’s latest Royal cam albatross chick has her new ‘female explorers’ themed name.

Date:  03 July 2018

Amīria is the Māori translation for Amelia (after Amelia Earhart) and a fitting name for the newest princess of the skies. Amelia Earhart was an American aviation pioneer and made history as the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

More than 1100 people voted for a shortlist of five names but Amīria soared to the top with 389 votes in the online naming competition.

DOC’s head ranger for the northern royal albatross/toroa colony, Mike Hitchcock, says after being abandoned by her parents and fostered, Amīria truly suits her name.

“What a fantastic name for a beautiful girl. She has overcome so much, we’re so proud of the spunky bird she’s grown into.

“We call her ‘the little bird that could’,” he adds.

Three people originally suggested the name Amīria and Wellington’s Arianna Ponder was randomly chosen as the winner.

“I chose Amīria because she is super cute and is a little explorer in the making,” explains Arianna.

As part of her prize Arianna and her partner will travel to Dunedin to meet Amīria at the Taiaroa Head colony.

“I’m in disbelief I’ve won such a meaningful competition, I can’t wait to see Amīria in person.”

The chick is growing fast and it won’t be long until she fledges and travels the world for up to ten years before she returns.

“By the time Arianna visits in August, feisty Amīria will be flapping her wing muscles and getting ready to leave the nest. We might even see a practice hover or two,” says Mike.

Arianna will join 150,000 annual visitors to the special colony which has grown from one breeding pair to more than sixty over the last 81 years.

CEO of Otago Peninsula Trust, Robyn McDonald is pleased the trust could support the naming contest with prizes and helping to host the winner.

“Royal cam is a great advocacy tool, especially during Plastic Free July, to help raise awareness of the ocean’s plastic plight. Charismatic Amīria is such a great ambassador for her species.”

The Royal Albatross Colony has benefited from decades of DOC’s management and predator control. 10,000 seabirds are also thriving at Taiaroa Head, including threatened species like red-billed gulls/tarāpunga and Otago shags/kawau.

Ariana will go on a unique tour of the albatross colony at Taiaroa Head. Thanks to Air New Zealand, Larnach Castle and the Otago Peninsula Trust, the prize package also includes:

  • return domestic flights for two to Dunedin;
  • two nights accommodation at Larnach Castle Lodge;
  • a tour of Fletcher House;
  • a visit to Glenfalloch Gardens and
  • a little penguin/kororā viewing tour.

Background information

  • View the chick by visiting:
  • Since Royal cam went live in 2016, the DOC website Royal cam page has received over 2 million views and over 100,000 comments.
  • Their slow reproduction rates, changes in habitat and climate and some fishing practices make northern royal albatross/toroa vulnerable. They are an icon of Dunedin and a taonga species for Ngāi Tahu.
  • With a wing span of over three metres, northern royal albatrosses are among the largest seabirds in the world.
  • After the chick fledges, its parents will leave the colony and spend the following year at sea. They then return to breed again, completing a two-year cycle.
  • DOC manages the albatross colony with the support of the Otago Peninsula Trust, Te Poāri a Pukekura (Pukekura Co-management Trust) and Dunedin City Council.


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