Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium was the first place we visited when we arrived in New Zealand over 12 years ago. Despite being tired from the long flight we were looking forward to seeing penguins and riding the moving sidewalk through the world’s first acrylic tunnels allowing stingrays, sharks, and other southern ocean marine life to freely swim all around us. It lived up to our expectations back then, and to my surprise, surpassed them last week.
Even before entering, we are transported to a different world as we walk down the ramp from street level to reception. As a visitor, the lighting seems perfect; as a photographer I found it a bit dark. Here are some of my highlights:
Captain Scott lead the Discovery Expedition to Antarctica in 1901–04. Several years later he led a second expedition that reached the geographic south pole on 17 January 1912, 34 days after Norwegian Roald Amundsen became the first to accomplish this. Sadly, Scott and his team were lost in a whiteout blizzard in 1912 on their return.
The pathway through Kelly Tarlton’s allows us to experience the disorientation of a whiteout as we pass through a slowly spinning white tube. Stopping for a few moments and turning to the side enhances the effect.
Leaving Antarctica, we return to the Southern Ocean of New Zealand . . . literally:
Finally, the area I remember most clearly from all of our visits so many years ago.
There is still more:
- Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium is located at 23 Tamaki Drive, along the Auckland waterfront about 6 kilometres east of the Auckland CBD. It is an underground facility, therefore doesn’t look like much from the outside.
- The buildings at either ends of the car park are the entrance and exit, so there are no bad spots, however the lot is often full and street parking is required.
- A free shuttle bus runs daily with pick up in the CBD on the half hour from 172 Quay Street (opposite the downtown ferry terminal). Last shuttle pick up is at 3.30, however, the last shuttle to return to the city leaves from Kelly Tarlton’s at 3.20, so plan accordingly. You’ll recognize the bus as it looks like a giant shark with wheels.
- Save money by purchasing tickets on-line before you arrive.
Conclusion: Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium is good fun for young and old. Most of the more adventurous activities include entrance, so a bit of planning can save quite a bit of money.
Penguins, shark tunnels, marine life, Antarctica; which is your favorite bit of Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium?
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Disclaimer: I was provided with a complementary entry, however the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.
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