Campervan to Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World

Posted on 10 September 2009

Campervan Hire New ZealandKelly Tarlton's Underwater World is one of Auckland's favourite attractions. When the late Mr Kelly Tarlton, a world-renowned marine archeologist and diver, had the idea to build an aquarium in disused sewerage holding tanks under Auckland’s waterfront, to many it seemed like a hare-brained scheme. But the construction of the 110-metre acrylic tunnel used for the Underwater World was a feat of Kiwi ingenuity.

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Here's some interesting information on the history of Kelly Tarlton's, sourced from

Kelly Tarlton’s dream came to fruition in January 1985, when after 10 months of construction, Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World opened. The underground project cost NZ$3 million. It was the first time a 110-metre long, waterproof, transparent acrylic tunnel had been built. Importing prefabricated tunnel sections was too expensive, so Kelly flew in enormous, flat sheets of acrylic from Germany. These were formed into the correct dimensions and then the one tonne sheets were oven heated and curved to the required tunnel shape. The sections were carefully lowered into the site in special order, through a hole in the footpath of Auckland’s waterfront. After the tunnels were sealed, everyone took a deep breath as they were tested to ensure they were watertight…and with a sigh of relief… they found no leaks! This was a world first; a transparent, underwater tunnel from which the public could be face to face with Sharks, Stingrays and other marine creatures.
Sharks, stingrays, penguins -- they're all at Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World. You can even book a 'snorkel safari' and get up close to more than 40 species of fish from New Zealand’s coastal waters – including Blue Mao Mao, Eagle Ray, Snapper, Trevelly, Pig Fish and the famous Moray Eel.

Video: Justin checks out the tunnel at Kelly Tarlton's in Auckland, NZ

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