In a country surrounded by water, it’s no surprise that the observation and study of marine life fascinates many kiwis. At aquariums and underwater observatories around the country, observing this alien world at close range is a delight for all ages, as marine creatures glide inches above your head in a never-ending dance.
New Zealand Aquariums & Underwater Observatories
Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World
Kelly Tarlton was a man of vision, taking the kiwi fascination for marine life one step further when he opened the first underwater walk-through aquarium in NZ in 1985. Using 7cm acrylic sheets which he imported himself and had shaped in a huge oven, his world-first design, copied extensively by aquariums around the world, is still in use today, and the observatory, now including an Antarctic Encounter, is one of the most popular attractions on Auckland’s waterfront. Open daily from 9am - 6pm.
23 Tamaki Drive, Orakei, Auckland Ph: +64 9 528 0603
National Aquarium of New Zealand
A multi-million dollar re-development of the Napier Aquarium in 2002 saw the launch of the National Aquarium of NZ, boasting NZ’s largest collection of aquatic life and native species, including sharks, piranha, crocodile, kiwi, gecko and tuatara, and a 50 metre underwater tunnel.
546 Marine Parade, Napier Ph: +64 6 834 1404
Central North Island
Tongariro National Trout Centre
An educational facility administered by the Tongariro National Trout Centre Society, whose aim is to foster and promote public interest and understanding of the Taupo Trout Fishery and freshwater ecologies though its visitor centre and children’s fishing pond. Website Ph: +64 7 386 8085
State Highway 1, Turangi (Located 4 Kms South of Turangi)
International Antarctic Centre
As an official gateway city to Antarctica, it’s fitting that the International Antarctic Centre is located in Christchurch. With a Snow and Ice Experience, Hagglund Rides, Penguin Encounter, and Antarctic Aquarium, plus a limited access Penguin Backstage Pass, the Centre’s interactive displays will make you shiver.
38 Orchard Road (Opposite the Christchurch Airport)
Ph: +64 3 353 7798
Milford Deep Underwater Observatory
On the shores of the Piopiotahi Marine Reserve, the Observatory’s viewing room lies 10.4 metres below the surface of the fiord, where deep water species such as black coral thrive much shallower depths than usual, due to the tannin stained waters above. There is no road access to the Observatory, you can only visit as part of a Milford Sound cruise.
Milford Sound Ph: +64 3 249 7400