Auckland’s Sea Life Aquarium

While we were housesitting in Auckland, we decided to check out their aquarium. We figured it would be something nice to do on a wintery, overcast day. Its official name is Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium. They were kind enough to offer us free admission so we could review it.

Whenever you review a place, you always hope you’ll have positive things to say. Hope springs eternal, right?

Our underwhelming experience began with finding parking. They are woefully underequipped for a lot of visitors, so if you choose to drive there make sure you can handle walking a decent distance. They do, however, operate a free shuttle from downtown Auckland, so that might save you some headaches. Although finding parking near their pickup spot isn’t so easy either, and it definitely isn’t cheap.

If you plan on visiting, I would highly recommend purchasing your tickets online. Not only will you receive a 10%-20% discount, but if they’re busy the line for prepaid customers is MUCH shorter. So, it’s a win-win all the way around.

I did enjoy their entryway. They have created a fun optical illusion as part of their Scott Base exhibit.

The penguin exhibit is also entertaining, especially if you’re there when it’s feeding time.

Auckland's Sea Life Aquarium

And that’s kind of where the compliments end. Overall, we found the exhibits to be fairly uninteresting, at least for older kids and above.

Smaller children might enjoy the aquarium a bit more as there were some exhibits that were designed more for little ones. Like most aquariums, they do have a “touchpool” where visitors can touch some marine life.

They also have a tunnel with a moving walkway which provides a decent up-close view of some sharks and other creatures. If you’ve been on one of these before, though, you’ll find this one fairly unimpressive.

Although, I will give them props for having a preserved giant squid in a tank. That was kind of cool to see.

Sea Life Aquarium giant squid

Visitor info

Ticket prices are pretty high in my opinion, but New Zealand tends to be more expensive for activities. The walk-up price for an adult (age 16 and above) is $36 NZD (almost $30 USD), but if purchasing tickets online, the rate starts at $28.80 NZD. Children’s tickets start at $14.40 NZD online.

If you are visiting with kids, check out their different family rates which could save you some cash.

The aquarium is open everyday with last entry being at 4 PM (and last shuttle pickup at 3:30).

Unless you are easily entertained, you don’t need to plan a lot of time to visit.

Bottom Line

We have to give this one the highly undesired rating of snoozefest. As divers, we enjoy going to aquariums sometimes. We both love the underwater world and seeing the different creatures, many of which we’ve seen in the wild. Perhaps having visited several really good ones has tainted others for us, especially after having thoroughly enjoyed the aquarium in Kuala Lumpur.

However, I have to say this Sea Life Aquarium is mediocre at best. There are more interesting things to do in and near Auckland in our opinion.

Do you enjoy aquariums? Which was your favorite?

Share This Post On


  1. I’m also a fan of aquariums but do have to agree with Tom — you can’t like everywhere you visit. Of course on the plus side at least you got to enjoy penguin lunch time 😉 That preserved giant squid also sounds rather interesting; never seen anything like that during any of my aquarium visits.

    Post a Reply
    • For some reason Akismet marked your comment as spam! Glad I found it in the folder.

      Yes, you and I both know well about not liking every place we visit, no? LOL I just hate it when a place leaves me so vastly underwhelmed that even with digging I can’t find much nice to say about it. C’est la vie.

      The giant squid was a cool part. I had never seen one, so that was cool. And the penguins were great. You could really see their personalities. But had I paid admission, I would’ve been really pissed after my visit.

      Post a Reply
  2. You can’t like everywhere you visit. I remember visiting the aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia, and loving it. The one in Seoul’s 63 Building? A total bore, and it had been a while since I’d been to an aquarium.

    Great that you’re honest with your review. I suspect that a family with young kids might have enjoyed it more than you. I didn’t give a glowing review of the CNN Studio Tour in Atlanta. It was, to be frank, crap.

    Post a Reply
  3. Aquariums are such hit and miss attractions. I’ve been to some that are amazing and others that are no different than walking into the fish section of a pet store.

    I know it’s hard to give negative reviews, but you clearly stated that you are both advanced divers (surely your expectations would be higher than those who haven’t seen the greatness of the underwater world first hand). Now would the average stay-at-home mom from the area who’s just looking to take her kids out for the day have the same opinion as you? Probably not… And quite frankly, you don’t need to like everywhere you go, even if they give you comped admission. You’re entitled to your opinion as much as the next person.

    I applaud you for your honesty!

    Post a Reply
    • I don’t think it really made a difference being divers. We really liked the aquarium in KL. I think it’s just this place was mediocre at best.

      I think someone with younger children would get more out of it. It would be better for young kids.

      Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *