Penguins in Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter. © Bruce Tuten Creative Commons

Auckland’s underwater zoo: Kelly Tarlton’s Sealife Aquarium


View the map

TAP FOR MORE INFO:

In less enlightened times, the vast underground chambers that are now Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter & Underwater World on Auckland’s Tamaki Drive were used to store the city’s sewerage before it was pumped to an outfall near the unfortunately named Browns Island. 

Once sewerage treatment commenced at Māngere and Rosedale, however, the tanks lay idle. It took the vision of scuba diving legend, Kelly Tarlton, to see them transformed into an internationally renowned tourist attraction – destiny in motions.

Tarlton’s idea was to put something of the world he knew from his underwater adventures in front of people who were afraid to get their feet wet, let alone abandon their natural habitat and mix it with the fishes.

He designed a 110 metre series of transparent tunnels through the tanks, which he proposed to fill with a faithful recreation of the marine environment, complete with millions of litres of seawater and a cross-section of the critters that call it home. It hadn’t been done before, but Tarlton and his team just went ahead and made it happen.

A basic tour of Kelly Tarlton’s is fascinating enough. You can cruise along the walkways and lock eyes with everything from urchins and octopi to stingrays, sharks, turtles and that little fish with the big rep, the piranha.

You can also do the Antarctic Encounter tour, entering through a replica of Sir Robert Falcon Scott’s hut, boarding a Snow Cat (such as are used on The Ice) for a ride past the resident penguin colony, as they cool their heels in the three tonnes of fresh snow that’s made daily, just for them.

But if you bring your togs along, there are even more interactive tours you can join. No diving or snorkelling experience is needed. You can jump in a shark cage or they’ll kit you up in full scuba gear and put you in the water with the sharks at feeding time so you can see these beautiful creatures up close and personal.

Explore more...


Be the first to comment on this page. You cannot post comments until you have logged in. Please log in or register if you don't have an account.

More stories like this

Find out more

Family fun

Auckland War Memorial Museum: a national treasure

Our children will take completely different memories of the Auckland War Memorial Museum into their futures than the majority of us have borne from our past. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Activities

Auckland Sky Tower

Opening in 1997, the Sky Tower was, at 326 metres, the tallest building in the southern hemisphere. It’s still the twelfth tallest tower in the world. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Activities

Central Auckland: bustling, beautiful, always beguiling

Auckland. Our diverse and buzzing supercity attracts lovers of good food, good beaches and hearty adventures in the great outdoors. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Things to do

Motu Manawa-Pollen Island Marine Reserve

The Motu Manawa–Pollen Island Marine Reserve, adjacent to Auckland's Northwestern motorway protects 500ha of the inner reaches of the Waitemata Harbour.  Read the story . . . 

Central Auckland Where to stay in

3.3 /5
3.3 /5
Best Price Around
Uenuku Backpackers Lodge Visit website

We provide backpackers' accommodation right in the heart of Auckland. Uenuku Lodge is a small, friendly, comfortable and clean house, and is the only backpackers' . . . More . . . 

Book now

Book now

3.3 /5
3.3 /5
Avondale Motor Inn Visit website

One of West Auckland's newest Motor Inn and Conference Centres. 11 studios, 5 x 1-bedroom and 2 x 2-bedroom family units (fully self-contained). . . . More . . . 

Book now

Book now

4.1 /5
4.1 /5
Rydges Auckland

Rydges Auckland Accommodation Boasts Vibrant Style, Modern Amenities & Unparalleled Service. New Zealand’s premiere Auckland accommodation is a vibrant mix of London sophistication, Sydney cool . . . More . . . 

Book now

Book now

From $159
CityLife Auckland

CityLife Auckland, is a Qualmark Rated 4.5 Star Property. From its central position in the centre of the city's Golden Mile, you can enjoy convenient . . . More . . . 

From $159

Book now

Book now