History & Building Architecture
In 1956, a local fish-keeping club began gathering some of their favourite specimens in the basement of Napier’s War Memorial Hall. Believed to be the first aquarium in New Zealand, this was the seed that has grown into what is New Zealand's national aquarium.
Twenty years later, in 1976, the fish-keeping club moved to a purpose-built site at the southern end of Marine Parade, where the aquarium still resides today. By the year 2000 it was due for expansion and by 2002 had undergone an $8 million redevelopment and was renamed with the title of The National Aquarium of New Zealand.
The National Aquarium's staff have an international reputation for specialist knowledge, including reptile expertise and an ability to keep stocks alive and well beyond their natural life expectancy rates.
The National Aquarium was the first in New Zealand to hatch a turtle egg and in 1980 it hatched the world’s oldest living tuatara hatched in captivity. Other scientific programmes have involved researching the sustainability of the Orange Roughy fishery, the effect of ageing on fish, and measuring stress levels in Tuatara.
National Aquarium Building
The ground floor of the aquarium showcases New Zealand native species including a 1.5 million litre Oceanarium exhibiting the diversity of the local Hawke Bay aquatic environment. The Oceanarium's main tank is 24m wide, 30m long and 3m deep. You can view the fish swimming and feeding above you as you stroll through the 50 metre long tunnel.
The upper floor houses species from the different continents of the world. Immerse yourself in Africa and our Lake Malawi cichlid exhibit, relax by the Japanese Garden with a cave fish display, then exit from the Asian Water Garden containing Koi carp, gold fish and twin-hinged tortoises into the harsh outback life of Australia with its skink display.