Len Brown at Kelly Tarlton's SEA LIFE Aquarium Len Brown at Kelly Tarlton's SEA LIFE Aquarium CREDIT: Spark Activate
Len Brown at Kelly Tarlton's SEA LIFE Aquarium Len Brown at Kelly Tarlton's SEA LIFE Aquarium CREDIT: Spark Activate

Sea change at Kelly Tarlton's

Friday 28 September 2012, 12:09PM
By Spark Activate


Auckland’s legendary underwater attraction, Kelly Tarlton’s, has undergone a $5.5 million upgrade and re-launches this Saturday as the all-new Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium.

With over 30 exhibits and more than 80 different species, the sea change means Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium will continue to inspire, thrill and delight visitors of all ages for many years to come.

At the heart of the re-development is a brand new walk-through penguin encounter, which is home to the world’s largest penguin colony display, and allows visitors to get closer than ever before to these magnificent Antarctic creatures.

Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium General Manager, James Thomas, says, “We’re excited to offer our guests a truly face-to-face experience with these majestic Antarctic penguins. The redevelopment has enabled us to deliver an even more enriching experience for visitors, as well as state-of-the-art enclosures for all our animals.”

Further developments include Kelly Tarlton’s famous Shark Tunnel – it was the first in the world and is now Maori Pacifica themed.  The tunnel not only houses New Zealand’s largest collection of sharks, but now also contains shipwreck artefacts.

Featuring eight new themed zones, Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium boasts unique new attractions including New Zealand’s first-ever live jellyfish display, the world’s only display of Spiny Sea Dragons and the world’s biggest species of stingray – one ray alone weighs over 240kg and has had 65 pups in its 27 years at Kelly Tarlton’s!

The new Rockpool Experience allows visitors to hold a crab or touch a starfish and, with the new animal-themed quiz trail, SEA LIFE offers a truly interactive day out.

The $5.5 million redevelopment investment comes from SEA LIFE’s parent company Merlin Entertainments, making Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium part of the world’s largest aquarium operator, with 41 aquariums and more than 90 attractions across 4 continents.

James Thomas says, “Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium’s primary focus remains educating visitors about the importance of conserving New Zealand’s sea life, protecting animals and their habitats. The investment by Merlin Entertainments to make Kelly Tarlton’s new again after 27 years of operation, shows Merlin’s commitment to creating educational and inspiring experiences for visitors, all whilst maintaining the important heritage of Kelly Tarlton’s.”

Auckland Mayor, Len Brown, visited the new penguin enclosure to feed the animals on the eve of the re-launch. “Kelly Tarlton’s is an Auckland icon and I’m extremely pleased to be involved in the re-launch as the all-new Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium after a substantial $5.5 million refurbishment,” says Mayor Brown.

“I know this investment will allow a whole new generation of Aucklanders to enjoy our marine life and learn about conserving it for the future.”

For more information about Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium, visit

About Merlin Entertainments

MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS is the leading name in location-based, family entertainment, and has seen the most successful and dynamic growth of any company in the sector over the last five years. Europe’s Number 1 and the world’s second-largest visitor attraction operator, Merlin now operates 90+ attractions, seven hotels/two holiday villages in 20 countries and across four continents. The company aims to deliver memorable and rewarding experiences to its 46 million visitors worldwide, through its iconic global and local brands, and the commitment and passion of its managers and 18,000 employees.  Merlin currently has thirteen attractions in Australia and New Zealand including the stunning Mount Hotham and Falls Creek Ski Resorts in Victoria; WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo and WILD LIFE Hamilton Island; Madame Tussauds in Sydney; Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures and Otway Fly Treetop Adventures & Zip Line; the Sydney Tower Eye & SKYWALK; and Sydney Aquarium, Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary, Melbourne Aquarium, Underwater World in Mooloolaba, Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium in Auckland, underlining the company’s position as the world’s biggest global aquarium operator.  Visit for more information.