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A visit to Napier’s National Aquarium of New Zealand is about to get even more interactive.
The Hawke’s Bay tourism attraction is pioneering innovative digital technology with its Free Digital Tours being launched this Friday.
Fascinating details of the Aquarium’s wildlife will be delivered to visitors through the use of QR (Quick Response) codes which are scanned by smart devices, android phones and iPads, says manager Rob Yarrall.
“If you have an iPhone and your Wi-Fi is turned on, on arrival you’ll get a ‘welcome to the Aquarium’ message with ‘check out our free digital tours?’ Then just click on either video or audio tours and away you go.”
Mr. Yarrall said the new technology would enhance the overall experience for visitors and make the Aquarium experience so much more memorable.
“Visitors get to be their own virtual tour guides. They will be given a unique look into the lives of the animals through 90-second videos, watched through free Wi-Fi on hand-held devices. The videos will show footage of feeding or other habitual behaviour that they may not get to see during their visit.”
The QR codes can be scanned onsite or prior to arrival from the Aquarium website - www.nationalaquarium.co.nz. If people do not have smart devices an audio version of the tour is also available on a pre-loaded MP3 player they can buy from the Aquarium and take away when they leave. Or they can download it from the website to their own MP3 player prior to arrival.Movementmedia creative director Markus Sawyer, who produced the videos for the project, is excited by the concept of mobilising the National Aquarium of New Zealand brand through Digital Tours.
By creating exclusive short videos and audio clips about the animals, we’re encouraging people to take control of their visit to the Aquarium by putting the exhibit information in the hands of the visitor and personalising their experience, he said.
“When people are at the Aquarium we want to help them slip into the wondrous world of the ocean and heighten their senses. Digital Tours is about helping people do that, and learn some interesting facts along the way.”
He said each of the videos showcased a featured animal at the Aquarium and was presented by a staff member who has a unique relationship with the animal from years spent caring for them.
“We wanted to try to capture a glimpse of that relationship and share it with visitors.”
The movementmedia crew spent almost a week filming with the Aquarium team including staff and animals.
“In television, there’s an old saying ‘Never work with children and animals’. We tried to debunk that old myth by letting the Aquarium staff who have strong relationships with these animals, share their knowledge and insights. It was pretty cool to capture that with them.”
Napier City Council’s Tourism Services marketing manager Rebecca Ainsworth said there would be 12 video and audio experiences that could be accessed in various ways. They will be updated regularly to ensure the footage remains fresh or added to as new exhibits open or change.
“Anyone will be able to carry out research before they arrive, so whether they’re on a visiting cruise ship or a school group carrying out research prior to coming here, all they will need to do is go to our website.”
The National Aquarium of New Zealand is home to New Zealand’s largest display of aquatic life and unique New Zealand wildlife, including sharks, stingrays, living coral, kiwi, tuatara and a huge range of fish species.
This development for the Aquarium was part of the wider overall Napier City Council strategy to enhance regional experiences for locals, domestic and international visitors to the city.