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Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter


Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter

Book Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter
Where to stay in Auckland
Things to do in Auckland
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Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World, AucklandBy Richard Moore



On Auckland's picturesque waterfront there is a tourist attraction that - if you didn't know it was there - you could very easily miss.

It is Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World - and it is one of those rare spots on the globe in which you can get very close to a colony of King and Gentoo penguins.

The spectacular creatures live within a South Polar atmosphere that emulates actual conditions in the wintry southernmost reaches of the Earth.

More than three tonnes of fresh ice is created daily to make the large birds feel more at home.

Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World, AucklandKings are the second largest penguins - only the Emperor is bigger - and they grow to 95 centimetres high and weigh in at an average 17 kilos. Gentoos are slightly shorter (up to 90 centimetres) but their weight is generally around 7 kilos.

You reach the penguin area through a life-size wooden replica of Sir Robert Falcon Scott's Antarctic hut.

This is a fascinating look at how the early polar explorers lived in the freezing conditions with examples of the clothes they wore, including sealskin and woollen mittens, the kitchen and its iron stove and pots, tin mugs, as well as the food larder - complete with bottles of Worcestershire sauce.

There are original mementos from the Scott hut, together with late-Victorian/early-Edwardian items including a piano, gramophone, books, lamps and, of course, a picture of King Edward VII.

Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World, AucklandOnce through the hut you come to the highlight of a visit to Kelly Tarlton's and that is a ride into the Antarctic via a small snowcat that takes you through the zero-degrees enclosure.

The start of this ride is senses-boggling as they take you through a rotating tunnel that brings on the disorientation you feel during a white-out snowstorm. And, it is fair to say, that even though one part of your mind knows you are still on the rail-pulley system your brain sends signals thinking you are about to be tipped over.

Very freaky stuff and it will not suit those who suffer from claustrophobia.

Kelly Tarlton's may need to look at a second way into their prize exhibit. When you break out into the main area, however, it is magnificent.

Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World, AucklandThe penguins are truly remarkable and I wish there had been a chance to stop the snowcat and just sit and watch them in action. A static viewing area would be ideal for both quiet contemplation and taking photos.

After the Antarctic Experience you enter Kelly Tarlton's underwater area. Tarlton is a famous New Zealand diver and his use of acrylic tunnels to let people walk under and through the swimming sea creatures was one of the first in the Southern Hemisphere.

It was opened in 1985 and, having spent many enjoyable hours at the Melbourne aquarium, the age of Kelly Tarlton's shows. Fortunately it is going to undergo an expansion soon.

There are two areas that grabbed the children's attention in the underwater area.

Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World, AucklandThe first was the tank containing giant crayfish that were more than a little cranky with others that popped into their plot of sand and rock. These guys were seriously big and just about everyone who came into the area sat down and watched them for quarter of an hour or so.

The viewing tunnels were also fine with sharks, rays and other marine creatures swimming up and over you.

Again it has to be said that Melbourne's aquarium is a better example and seemed to have larger fish stocks.

There is a Discovery Room for children where they can find out what it is like to be an octopus, get hands-on in a rock pool and check out cool scientific stuff.

Open Hours:
9.00am - 6.00pm daily (Last entry 5.00pm).

Ticket Prices:
Adult (15+) $26.
Students (15+ with ID) $20.
Child (5 - 14) $10
Child (4 years) $6.
Pre-schoolers are free.
Family Tickets 1 Adult, 2 Children $40.
1 Adult, 3 Children $50.
1 Adult, 4 Children $55.
2 Adults, up to four Children $59.




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