Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium Admission
Auckland, New Zealand
- Antarctic Ice Adventure: The world's largest Antarctic penguin display lets you experience these magnificent birds up close as they dive and swoop through icy sea water.
- Shark Tunnel: Sand tiger, school, wobbegong, and sevengill sharks prowl just feet away as you head through this curved underwater viewing tunnel – the first of its kind – in a habitat that also includes eels, rescued turtles, and thousands of New Zealand native fish.
- Stingray Bay: Marvel at the largest rays in the world gliding with uncanny grace through a huge, open-topped tank. Short-tail stingrays are intelligent, easygoing, and even playful, growing to more than 400 pounds.
- Other exhibits: Digital technology brings you face to face with a Megalodon, a Plesiosaurus, and an angry Liopleurodon in Jurassic Seas; the Seahorse Kingdom is the only place besides the bottom of the ocean to see Spiny Sea Dragons; the Fish Gallery offers close-up views of New Zealand coastal species, including huge crayfish, octopus, pigfish, lionfish, and triggerfish; at Shipwreck Discovery, hundreds more fish live among artifacts salvaged by Kelly Tarlton; the Southern Oceans Discovery Zone features a giant squid and a spider crab measuring three feet from claw to claw; Scott Base is a replica of the 50 x 25-foot hut from Robert Scott's 1910 South Pole expedition.
About This Auckland Tour
In 1956, Kelly Tarlton's passion was mountain peaks, not ocean depths. After political unrest in Peru quashed a planned climbing trip, he wandered into an Auckland theater showing Jacques Cousteau's The Silent World. He was 19, and came out with a new passion.
He taught himself to dive using a breathing apparatus made from a bicycle pump, a garden hose, and an ice cream container, setting a free-dive record at the age of 25. At 30 he was recovering treasure from long-lost wrecks: enough to build and fill his Museum of Shipwrecks by 33.
With scuba salvage in its infancy, Kelly invented his own air tanks and pressure regulator, his own system for blowing sand off wrecks, and a decompression chamber that allowed divers to work for an hour, instead of five minutes.
He endured spectacular failures. Film he shot for his own underwater movie melted in tropical heat. He lost shiploads of money on wrecks that yielded little. So he freelanced as a writer and photographer (inventing his own underwater camera). He took dive jobs hunting for lost engagement rings. At one point he was stranded on an island in a cyclone, surviving on rice and sea snakes for a week. But an idea was building in his mind: an aquarium that would replicate the diver's world on dry land.
When he finally scored enough shipwreck treasure, he bought (and cleaned) gigantic sewage tanks, then began work on the feature that would define his aquarium: a clear tunnel providing the diver's-eye view he loved. A 24-hour fishing trip produced something to view: three nurse sharks that he kept alive in a truck, their rough skin rubbing his legs raw.
He worked 18-hour days for nine months, but opened for business when he said he would: January 25, 1985. Within an hour, 200 people were inside. Within days, Kelly knew he'd get his mortgaged home back. But on March 17, after personally greeting customer 100,000, he died, just 47. His passion has since been shared by millions, turning recycled sewage tanks into the biggest attraction in New Zealand.
Transparent underwater viewing tunnels are now common, but they were Kelly Tarlton's idea. He perfected the acrylic-forming process in his kitchen oven, and then built a house-sized furnace to begin production. Aquariums from around the world were calling about the innovation while Kelly was still figuring out how to put the huge curved sheets together.
Please make your way to 23 Tamaki Dr, Orakei, Auckland to begin your experience.
Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium is a public aquarium in that was opened in 1985. Located at 23 Tamaki Drive.
The amount of walking is at the traveler's discretion while visiting the attraction.
Cultural, Tickets, Walking Tour
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated moderate. Full participation may require extended periods of walking over even and uneven surfaces, steep terrain and/or water activity in a slight current. There may be steps, inclines, cobblestone surfaces, and extended periods of standing. Participants with physical limitations should take this into account.
Suitable for all ages.
Non-refundable if canceled within 24 hours of requested services.
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