Yep. Another Aquarium.

There was discussion between us about what kind of a trip our New Zealand adventure would be. Would we rent a vehicle and drive? Would we take a cruise around the islands? How much of the country would we see?

Lots of people from North America manage driving in countries that drive on the left side of the road. And I’m sure we could, too. But – we decided we didn’t want to. Taxis, transit, tours – they would work for us.

And that is how we came to be standing by the side of the road on a hot summer day, waiting for the shark bus to take us to Kelly Tarlton’s SeaLife Aquarium. The bus was pretty much as advertised…

We’ve been to many aquariums, but this one is unique in that it is entirely underground. Marine archeologist Kelly Tarlton had a dream to build an aquarium, and he found this site, which was a former sewage storage tank facility. Time and money and ingenuity – and TaDa – the tanks have been transformed into an underground facility. It was very interesting. Part of the facility was a reproduction of the Scott’s hut in Antarctica, along with information about the Antarctic explorers and the work that continues there.

Part two was a big display of Gentoo and King penguins, who live together in a snowy colony.

The third area is a large shark and manta ray exhibit. We’ve been to many aquariums where the displays have the tank above and around the viewers, often with a moving sidewalk to move the traffic along. This was first of that kind, and it is still going strong after more than thirty years.

One of the things we enjoyed about this facility was the fact that it is so quiet. Even though it is summer here the facility was not packed with people. We’ve been to bigger facilities with more critters =- very impressive. But this was small,focussed and almost intimate. Really well done.

And how often do you get to ride in a bus shaped like a shark?

No oxcart this time !

Hey! Hello from the other side of the world! Once again we’ve de-camped from winter and headed south. Way south – all the way to New Zealand! We decided to dive right in and take a little tour from our first stop in Auckland. A short ferry ride away is the island of Rangitoto. Six hundred years ago it was an active and erupting volcano – now it is a nature preserve.

It is summer here, and hot, so we decided to take a tour. When we were last in Japan we had rides in an oxcart – this time we had friendly Bob and his tractor rig.

So – you know what the thing is about riding in an open cart on a volcanic rock?
Dust. OMG the dust! And the rattling! My FitBit was convinced I had walked thousands of steps just riding along. We rode up though the forest that has slowly slowly grown up on the lava. Eventually we came to – you guessed it – stairs. ‘Cause it is never a really Sharon and Wilf adventure without stairs.

375 steps, to be exact. Leading up to the summit and a fantastic view across to the city and all around the bay.

(Okay, that’s the telephoto view, but still – pretty nice!)

It was a really nice little excursion from the city – a chance to see some nature, to see the city in context. We also brought along a little pack lunch – had our first New Zealand meat pies in a pavilion by the shore, under the very watchful eyes of a hungry sea gull..