The Royal Albatross is among the largest of the tube-noses, second only to the Wandering Albatross. Due to its great size, the Royal Albatross requires strong sustained winds to stay aloft and is thus confined to the windiest regions of the South Pacific. It breeds in large colonies on four islands off of southern New Zealand; it occurs in South America only as a nonbreeding visitor, where it occurs in pelagic waters of the Pacific coast north to Chile and perhaps to Peru, and on the Atlantic coast north to northern Argentina. The species takes 9-11 years to reach sexual maturity and until that time does not return to land. During that time, the species undergoes a complex series of molts; many of its plumages are very similar to those of the Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans), from which it must be separated with great care.