Now known as the less cumbersome Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium, this aquatic zoo houses over 30 marine life displays from over 80 different species including the world's largest penguin colony exhibit. Opened in 1985, the aquarium is the brainchild of its namesake – New Zealand adventurer, explorer, inventor and diver Kelly Tarlton.
This underwater world will engage and enthral fish aficionados of all ages. Divided into 10 different zones, the aquarium offers watery wonders that traverse the icy waters of the Antarctic to deep-sea creatures and colourful tropical fish species. Get up close with a colony of King and Gentoo penguins via the walk-through Antarctic Ice Adventure exhibit and take a trip via a warmed snowmobile to a walk-through replica of explorer Robert Falcon Scott's hut. Still in the cold of the ocean is the NIWA Southern Oceans Discovery zone with live jellyfish and other rare creatures from the depths.
For marine predators and large sea creatures, the Shark Tunnel, Stingray Bay and Ocean Discovery zones offer awe-inspiring encounters with these magnificent species. The curved, clear underwater viewing tunnel provides a fish-eye view as sharks, eels, turtles and stingrays swim and glide over your head. On a smaller scale, the Rockpools provide the opportunity to touch the critters that call this environment home, and Seahorse Kingdom is where you can view these delicate and endangered animals with different types from around the world.
For those wanting a more adrenalin-pumping underwater visit, Kelly Tarlton's offers snorkelling with sharks from the safety of a cage, or go cage-free and face-to-face with these thrilling fish during a Shark Dive Xtreme. These encounters attract a fee from NZ$165 for certified divers for Shark Dive Xtreme, or from NZ$76 for the Shark Cage. Adult entry to Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium is NZ$36, NZ$18 for children aged three to 15 years and free for kids aged two and under. It's cheaper to purchase tickets online and also recommended to avoid the queues for this popular attraction. A free shuttle service departs from 172 Quay Street in downtown Auckland to Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium every half hour from 9:30am to 3:30pm.