Every school holidays we do a family day trip somewhere. Over the summer holidays we visited Kelly Tarton's Aquarium in Auckland. My little boy loves fish and any other animals so we this was our reason for deciding to visit the aquarium. We'd also already previously been to Auckland Zoo and Butterfly Creek so wanted to do something different this time.
Kelly Tarlton's is open from 9.30 am - 5.00 pm daily. If you're a clever cookie (unlike I was) you'll purchase your tickets online prior to the day to save a bit of money. It is a bit more expensive than a trip to the zoo, but we felt that it was worth it for a special holiday treat. You can find more information about tickets, how to get to Kelly Tarlton's and feeding times on their website - here.
Here were some of our favourite things to see and do with our toddler.
The Antarctic Ice Adventure (home to New Zealand's only colony of Antarctic penguins) was the first main attraction that we came across and was definitely one of our favourites. There are no words to describe how special it is to see these magical creatures up so close. Our little boy was completely fascinated as he watched them glide through the icy cold water.
You get the opportunity to observe the penguins both in the water and on land. If you time your trip right you might even get to see the penguins being fed some fish.
Stingray Bay consists of an open top tank, which houses both short-tail stingray and eagle ray. There is also a cafe and a children's playground (Shipwreck Shores) in this area if you feel the need to stop for a bite to eat. We had one very excited toddler who couldn't wait to move on to see more sea creatures, so we kept moving. As a result of this we also skipped very quickly through the Scott Base exhibit. This looked amazing though and would be great for older children to spend more time exploring.
The Shark Tunnel proved to be another favourite. Our little one loved observing the different sharks, fish, turtles and other various sea creatures. The curved, underwater viewing tunnel was the first one in the world! There are four different types of large sharks in the tunnel - Broadnose Sevengill, School Shark, Sand Tiger and Wobbegong sharks. On Tuesdays and Thursdays you can watch them being hand-fed by the divers that work there. We didn't see this, but I'm sure it would be an incredible experiment to watch.
After the shark tunnel we carried on to the Fish Gallery and Seahorse Kingdom. There is an incredible array of colourful fish and seahorses in these areas. Everything from little Nemo fish to clown fish, sea horses and an octopus!
Something new to Kelly Tarlton's that we LOVED was the Amazing Creations zone. Proudly supported by Crayola, this exciting area opened for summer 2017. Your child gets to colour in their own sea creature. It's then scanned on a magic little machine and comes to life on the big screen (an interactive projection wall). Even at age 1 my little boy loved participating in this activity. His little fish swam around on the screen with the other fish for a while before disappearing into the deep, blue ocean. Older children also have the opportunity to learn more about conservation issues facing coral reefs while exploring this area.
We can't wait to return to Kelly Tarton's Sea Life Aquarium when our little boy is a bit older to explore some more. Kelly Tarton's makes for a great family day out and is perfect during the winter months, as it's all indoors.