Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Kelly Tarlton’s celebrates 30 years on Auckland’s waterfront

14 November 2014

Kelly Tarlton’s celebrates 30 years on Auckland’s waterfront

Call for Kiwis to share memories

It is nearly 30 years since the visionary Kelly Tarlton brought his dream of an aquarium to life on Auckland’s waterfront. Now to mark the anniversary, the iconic destination is inviting Kiwis to share their personal memories of what was the world’s first ‘underwater’ aquarium.

Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium celebrates its 30th anniversary of breeding, rescuing and protecting sea life in January next year. And the team is planning to unveil a wall of memories from the past three decades to mark this milestone.

To hundreds of thousands of Kiwis a trip to Kelly Tarlton’s is a quintessential part of growing up in New Zealand. More than 11.5 million visitors are estimated to have been both wowed and educated at the aquarium since Kelly Tarlton designed and constructed the attraction in what were disused sewage tanks.

Everyone is invited to send photos or videos of themselves at Kelly Tarlton’s, with a written memory of up to 100 words. Each person who sends in a ‘non-returnable’ photograph will receive a Kelly Tarlton’s birthday gift of one single pass to get the chance to make new memories. A selection of memories will be displayed on a special memory wall at the attraction, to be unveiled in January.

Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium’s General Manager, Philip McGowan commented, “We are thrilled that one of New Zealand’s best known and loved visitor attractions has reached 30 years of operation. It is a testament to Kelly’s vision that the aquarium has stood the test of time and it continues to make a significant contribution to Kiwis’ understanding of and love of the ocean and its amazing creatures.”

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

The aquarium was the creation of extraordinary Kiwi adventurer, diver, treasure hunter and inventor Kelly Tarlton, who passionately wanted to share his love of the ocean with others. After a two-month treasure mission off the Netherlands’ north coast to survey the sunken 32-gun frigate Lutine, Kelly returned to New Zealand with the ambitious dream.

“Kelly had a vision for the aquarium that had never been imagined before. He visited aquariums around the world and examined many sites before settling on the redundant stormwater and sewagetanks at Takaparawha Point on Auckland’s waterfront,” says Phil McGowan.

In April 1984 construction began on the 2.4 metre-diameter tunnel and moving platform walkways. Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World opened on 25 January 1985 and exceeded Kelly’s aim of 200,000 visitors in its first year. Just seven weeks after opening Kelly personally greeted the 100,000th visitor, making his 18 hour work days worth it.

Tragically, that night, Kelly died of a heart condition aged only 47. Thirty years on, his widow Rosemary, remembers her husband’s magnificent legacy.

“I know Kelly would be extremely proud of how his legacy has been continued. When he established Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World in 1985 he did so with a vision to bring awareness and enjoyment of the underwater world to the people, while educating them on the importance of protecting marine species and their environment.

“In the last 30 years, Kelly Tarlton’s aquarium and those that have emulated his concept have inspired people in many ways. Some people have undertaken marine conservation efforts, some became marine biologists, some learnt to scuba dive and others pick plastic off the beach to help save sea creatures and birds. Collectively they are all conveying the values Kelly strove to share.

“He’d also be honoured to know that other aquariums are being built around the world based on his aquarium design, and that his initial concept has been expanded over the years to allow visitors to experience even more of his favourite habitat,” Rosemary Tarlton says.

Fun Facts:
• 20 sharks circle above visitors heads and those brave enough can swim with the Wobbegong, School Sharks, Sand Tiger Sharks, and Broadnose Sevengill Sharks
• Kelly Tarlton’s is the home of New Zealand’s only colony of Antarctic penguins
• Kelly Tarlton’s has treated over 80 turtles since the inception of its rehabilitation programme
• A stingray can weigh up to 300kgs – Kelly Tarlton’s have three resident female stingrays
• 18 million litres of water fill the tanks at Kelly Tarlton’s
• 5 tonnes of fresh snow is made at Kelly Tarlton’s each day

Memories can be submitted as original images, scanned copies or a digital version through otherwise memories can be posted to: PO Box 42021, Orakei, Auckland, 1071.


© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.