The Queen’s Birthday holiday fell shortly after our relocation to New Zealand and we jumped at the opportunity to begin exploring. The Hawke’s Bay region known for its wineries and beaches seemed to be a perfect place for a long weekend getaway. This was a family trip so we wanted to mix in some fun activities for the girls which brought us to the National Aquarium of New Zealand.
The aquarium has a prime beachfront location on Napier’s marine parade and short walk to the city center. The area surrounding the aquarium has sculpture displays and decorative water fountains representing the artistic side of Napier.
With a name like the National Aquarium of New Zealand, I expected a larger facility than the reality; however, inside the diverse range of sea creatures made up for it. The friendliness of the staff helped to create a more personal experience too.
The 1st trainer talk we encountered was for the Little Blue penguins. The trainer entered the enclosure and conducted the informative talk while she fed them.
There are behind the scenes tickets available for a more in-depth experience. The minimum age is 6 years old though so that left us out. The chance to get up close to these adorable little penguins would have been a truly memorable and educational experience.
Next the girls wanted to ride the conveyor belt that circled under the shark tanks. There were lots of other fish and stingrays swimming around but the girls were mostly interested in the sharks. We had to go around twice to make sure we did not miss any!
This aquarium offers the only opportunity in New Zealand to free swim with sharks. This does not sound fun to me considering a wet suit would be the only thing between me and the predators. Hopefully they keep the sharks well fed!
This put us out in time for another feeding by a scuba diver in the shark tank. I guess these little sharks do not look too vicious. The girls loved watching the diver in with all the fish. He even decided to stand on his head and put on a show for all the children in the audience.
Once the scuba diver finished feeding the sharks, we snapped a quick photo in front of the tank and then moved on to see the remainder of the aquarium.
There were plenty of other areas like the touch zone where could feel a live star fish or the turtle tank which gave Ella up close viewing.
The giant squid always freaks me out. It reminds me too much of the “Independence Day” movie alien.
This was a nice surprise during our trip to the Hawke’s Bay region. I think it was best suited for smaller children. Unless of course you want to swim with sharks!