As the visitor information says “Kelly Tarlton was an amazing man who wanted to bring the underwater world to everyone”.
The Treasure Hunter built the worlds first curved aquarium tunnel and an incredible underwater world that’s home to over 1,500 fish and various artefacts that Kelly found while exploring different ship wrecks around the world! We ventured off to Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s to discover this underwater world.
First stop is the Scott Hutt replica, reminiscent of the old town at the Auckland Museum it’s small step back in time to see how the first hut was set up. Filled with tiny bunks, cookers and artefacts real or replaced – not entirely sure – but being a lover of time-travel fantasies it’s a pretty cool transportation to another time and place where exploration and adventure began in the Antarctic.
Antarctic Ice Adventure
The Antarctic Ice Adventure at Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s is home to New Zealand’s only colony of Sub-Antarctic penguins. The King penguins stood tall and proud as the name suggests, much bigger than we’d ever thought a penguin would be, and Kings are smaller than Emperors! You can watch them in duck and dive in their Antarctic pool, toddle around, flap, sleep and bask in their freezing icy habitat. Total time-taker-upperers we could have watched them for hours swimming and flirting – I’m certain – from behind the glass.
The kids took to the colouring stations at Crayola’s Amazing Creations, surrounded by gorgeous fish tanks with gorgeous fish, namely Nemo and Dori, mural walls, and a huge interactive projection wall where you’ll see your coloured creation spring to life. It was also feeding time for the little – but large – lizards, with our noses pressed against the glass we saw the little lizard completely disinterested in eating a bug, the kids were in giggles then blank faced when he finally realised it was kai time and snapped it into this mouth!
NIWA Southern Oceans Discovery
The Southern Ocean supports a huge variety of incredible marine life, some of which is yet to be discovered by humans. But what has been known to us for years are Sea Jellies and King Crabs! King crabs prefer a water temperature colder than the kind of cold that feels like it’s burning your skin, Sea Jellies are primitive animals with no brain! These guys were mesmerising, swimming through their tanks lit dramatically with coloured light they looked like aluminated aliens floating through space. Another time-taker-upperer!
Shipwreck Shores is the awesome indoor playground with a soft and safe play area, a splash table for water play, another gorgeous tank with Nemo (and all his siblings had they survived) and Dori, a perfect pit stop for lunch right at the cafe where you can buy or bring your own, and catch a glimpse of the city through the large windows.
Did you know that Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s is the only place in New Zealand that rehabilitates rescued turtles? It was feeding time at the Turtle Bay tank, divers took to the water to feed the fish and turtles, maybe mainly the turtles, because as the fish dashed in and out snapping at the food the gentle turtle floated beside the diver gazing at her face, and she fed him, especially him, at his own pace, she was under his smiling spell.
Here you can walk or glide on the travelator under some of the world’s biggest aquarium sharks, including the Sandtiger and Broadnose Sevengill Sharks, and one called a Wobbegong Shark who loves to camouflage against the rocks. The water was clear to see but the habitat somewhat dull and murky – a change from the bright colours of all the fish aquariums. Obviously this is shark territory, and a stingray or two, where only the toughest survive, and apparently they’re NOT the jolly, bright, colourful kind. As the sharks swam above us it was a thrill for the kids who were already thrilled to be on the underwater travelator, an awesome way to view sea creatures.
Here you’ll see everything from huge crayfish, Lionfish, Clown triggerfish… and I’m presuming Puffer fish.. which we didn’t want to see it frightened but curious at the same time to see it the size of a small balloon. We didn’t.
Seahorses are considered one of the most beautiful creatures in the sea – and it’s no wonder, they’re small but majestic, and seem as proud as the King penguins. Our faves were the Big Belly and Yellow sea horses, they’re majestic little things and if you squint you can almost see the little underwater mermaid and merman fairies that ride them.
A fun family day out
We spent 3 hours mesmerised by an underwater world of life different from our land-bound ones which interested the kids and triggered our imaginations. There’s much to see, and certainly a few cute and amazing time-taker-upperers willing to use up your time if you’re willing to give it. Along with the playground and Crayola creative stations it’s an easy fun outing for the family full of discovery, learning and play.
Plan your trip to Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s here>>> www.kellytarltons.co.nz
Written by Ronnie Swainston for Kidspot