A fun-filled family location …
At the weekend we decided to head out to Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium located on Tamaki Drive near Central Auckland. The weather was a little unpredictable so it was the perfect place to visit is all undercover. Kelly Tarlton’s is a popular place to go, so be prepared for a lot of people. We luckily found the only mobility park available, located just outside the entrance to the aquarium. It was hidden from view as it was in front of the brightly painted courtesy bus – a popular mode of transport. The courtesy bus runs from the Quay Street Downtown Ferry Terminal every hour on the half hour. You can’t miss it as it resembles a big shark. The courtesy transport isn’t wheelchair accessible but there is room to store one inside.
The courtesy transport can be caught from the Downtown Ferry Terminal every half on the half hour.
Departure Times: 9.30am, 10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm, 3.30pm
Public buses depart from Britomart Transport Station every 15mins, 7 days a week.
Bus Stop 1323 – Customs Street by the Postshop. Allow 20-25 minutes travel time
Entry into Aquarium
Entry into the aquarium is step-free with a wide open doorway. Once through the entrance, we found gradual ramping to get down underground to sea level.
There are two queuing lanes to choose from:-
- for pre-paid tickets &
- for tickets sales.
Tip: No need to queue too long if you can pre-book. This would be a distinct advantage during peak season. There are wheelchairs for hire from the booking desk on request and an accessible toilet at the entrance.
We found easy access everywhere. The majority of exhibits are viewable if you are using a wheelchair. I think the only barrier we came across was the number of people around. Luckily everyone tends to move through quickly so it’s possible to find that perfect vantage spot with a bit of patience.
The aquarium exhibits are great and you will find something to marvel at around every corner. The Penguins were a real highlight for us they are such performers, especially around feeding time. The penguins are fed daily at 11.30am. My daughter, moved her finger along the glass as one came up real close. It then engaged with her by following her finger trail with its eyes – what a treat! My younger son, enjoyed the huge stingrays as they glided up and down the tanks. You really felt they were interacting with you as they brushed passed the glass. The stingrays are fed at 10.30am, 1pm and 3pm. Finlay enjoyed the jellyfish – he particularly took a liking to the tanks with brightly coloured tropical fish. His favourite part, however, had to be the travelator that took you around giving you the feeling you were under the water with all the sharks! The sharks are fed on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2pm.
The Antarctic Ice Adventure
My only unfavourable part was trying to walk through the moving ‘ice tunnel!’ The floor stayed still but the walls and ceiling moved around making me feel quite unsteady.
Tip: Watch out for this area as you can lose your balance. You will find a grab rail to steady you if you need it as you move through. The kids, however, had no problem and thoroughly enjoyed the feeling.
The Pheobe’s Café
The Café has a children’s play area attached with some interactive rock pools to keep you entertained. The kids touched a big starfish and marvelled at how strong the tentacles were. There is a Rock Pools talk at 10.45am, 12.45pm and 2.45pm. The Phoebe’s Café has some basic lunch food and snacks on offer – toasted sandwiches, sausages rolls and sandwiches. Along the outside wall is a long glass window that looks out at sea-level making you feel truly with one with the ocean.
Everywhere you go you are greeted with marine life and interactive areas. A ‘must try exhibit’ is plunging your hand into the provided cold water buckets. The aim is to last 30 seconds. We lasted 27 seconds before we whipped our hands out fast. “I did find myself counting faster to get to 30 the colder it became.”
Shark Tunnel on the Travelator
We went on to find the underwater shark tunnel. We had so much fun in this area that we decided to travel around three times. The travelator took us around and each time we did it we discovered something new. The third time we went round we got to see some divers jumping into a cage to get a real personal close encounter with the sharks.
The Diver Feed is at 2pm daily (except Tuesdays and Thursdays).
When we finally decided our time was up in the Shark Tunnel we came off and discovered some steps to get up to the next level. Beside the steps was a ‘wheelchair lift’ so we pressed the call button and it came down for Finlay. Because of the limited room inside we closed the door leaving Finlay in there and went up the steps to press the ‘call button’ again to bring the lift up. Finlay found it quite amusing – “We could do with one in our home.” We did notice ‘up and down’ buttons inside for those people who can operate it themselves.
The next level greeted us with an array of tropical fish, hungry eels, a tank full of seahorses and a gift shop to satisfy our love for a souvenir. The kids walked out with a stuffed shark, jellyfish and an Antarctic dog. I decided to buy the photo souvenir that was taken when we first came in. This just finished off our wonderful day out at Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium.
Just when we thought we would just walk and wheel out of the aquarium we were reminded that we were still underground at sea level. We were greeted with another flight of steps and another lift.
Accessible Places to Stay in the Area
Other Wheelchair Accessible Auckland Activities