Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium

Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium is Auckland (NZ)'s only aquarium. We visited it with our kids and you can read all about it here!

A pin to make life a little bit easier…

We went to Kelly Tarlton’s around 4 years ago and, even though the kids loved it, we, the grown-ups didn’t. It is pretty expensive (NZ$39 adults and NZ$22 children, in 2016) and it took us, with four children under 7, one hour to go through everything. After Japan’s huge aquariums, it was quite sad.

Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium has some huge sting rays. Their feeding time was very amusing.

The huge stingray and Melissa. She was actually freaking out because of the ‘holes’ on its tummy.

We found some coupons this year that gave us free entry when accompanying a paying kid, so we decided to give it another go. They had renewed a lot of it and the kids really wanted to go again.

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A visit to Kelly Tarlton, Auckland (NZ) with kids

So we went. We arrived around midday (we knew it wouldn’t take us long to see it). It cost us NZ$66 for the 3 kids, as Melissa went by as an adult (and adults were free with our coupons).

The highlights were:

  • The bridge inside a tunnel. This tunnel is pretty cool, the walls move in a circle, turning around and around you. The bridge is still, but you get this funny feeling that you’re gonna fall. Kids adored it. We spent a few minutes playing there.
The first thing we see when we enter Kelly Tarlton's is this glacier tunnel, which is pretty cool!

The glacier tunnel was one of the coolest things there, and it’s not even an animal.

  • The Penguins. They are cute. Angelo was trying to take a photo of them with his CUBE camera (affiliate link) and a King penguin came swimming towards it and tried to eat it quite a few times. They smell. You can smell them through the glass, but they are still cute. Coral, in special, loved them and loved playing on the fake ice wall. We also noticed how long their necks are. They can scratch their own necks with their own beaks. Wow.
The penguins at Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium (Auckland, NZ) kept trying to eat our little camera. Cute!

The little penguin trying to eat Angelo’s CUBE camera



  • The dead giant squid. We’d seen a bigger one at Te Papa (the coolest museum in NZ. You have to visit if you go to Wellington) so my kids weren’t impressed.
  • The elephant sharks. There was this guy in the shark tank talking about them and it was pretty cool to know that the rock like thingies we saw are actually eggs. Kids were pretty amazed.
  • The stingrays. The keeper comes around several times a day to feed them and talk about them. It is fun to see them asking for food, hugging the keeper.
The feeding times in Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium are pretty fun and highly educational. The bad thing is that they do get quite crowded.

The sweet stingray ‘hugging’ the keeper

  • The shark tunnel. You basically walk (or stand on the travelator that goes around it for you). Jose was quite scared at the beginning, asking if the sharks wouldn’t try to attack us but relaxed and enjoyed once I assured him the sharks only attack when they are hungry, and these sharks weren’t. Coral got scared too and wanted to be carried (not a big deal, as it takes around 5 minutes to go around it). It is quite fun to see the sharks and rays swimming over our heads (and from a different angle). The sea turtles made all the kids happy. Melissa loved the tiny rays (after seeing the huge ones, which she said are creepy). She hated the lobster. There are many different creatures, so you can go around as many times as you want or just walk and not use the travelator.
The shark tunnel in Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium is one of the prettiest parts. Keep your eyes open and try to find as many creatures as you can!

Awesome shark tunnel and the green turtle – a lucky shot

  • The Nemo fish tank. A few clown fishes with their anemone homes, Dory, Gil and even the yellow fish (I have just found out it is Bubbles). Precious.
  • The kid zone. There is a screen room, with bean bags, but there was nothing on. There is a fun big anemone. The playground is for 3-8-year-olds, but it was pretty dark and Coral didn’t like it much. There are a sea turtle model and a pretty neat splash table for the kids with plastic pieces to make different ways and mazes for little boats. Not perfect, but fun.
  • The fun facts on every wall. Joao loved finding out many fun facts about the sea creatures.

To finish it…

It was fun. It is a lot better than it was 4 years ago. But it is still a one or two hours thing, and a little too pricey to be honest. It is pretty well kept, there is enough parking space. There is a café right at in front of the kids’ area so parents can sit and have a coffee while the children play. The toilets are clean and most of the staff are pretty helpful.

  • What / Where
  • Minimun Stay
  • $ ~ $$$
  • Child-friendlyness
  • Best local transport option
  • Safety
  • Do we recommend it?
  • Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium / Auckland, NZ
  • 2 hours
  • $$$
  • Perfectly child-friendly
  • Car, but they do have a bus taking people to the Aquarium from a few places in town
  • Perfectly safe
  • If you like aquariums, yes!
This is part of Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium's (Auckland, NZ) playground. It's a small aquarium, so you can take as many breaks as needed - there's a café right in front of it so parents can relax a bit.

The anemone and the turtle at the edge. The shipwrek is the dark playground.

Very close to it is Mission Bay beach (one of the most popular beaches in Auckland). We spent the rest of the afternoon there and it was good.

To see what other fun things there is in Auckland for families, click here!







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  1. […] all loved the shark tunnel, although it IS a bit like the NZ one, so nothing new there. The Rainbow Reef is beautiful but 2 places caught us more: the incredible […]

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