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Our Story

The National Aquarium of New Zealand

The National Aquarium of New Zealand stretches along Napier’s Marine Parade like a huge stingray. It's home to a wide range of saltwater, freshwater and land animal exhibits from New Zealand and around the world.

Visit Penguin Cove and watch the world famous little penguins feed and play. See stingrays, kingfish, hapuku, snapper, and other majestic native species swimming over you in the 1.5 million litre oceanarium tunnel.

Spot New Zealand’s native wildlife – the tuatara and kiwi, and book a Close Encounter with our little penguins or terrapins. Guided tours can also be booked and run daily at 10.30am.

Daily feeding times are 10.00am for the reef fish, 2pm oceanarium diver hand feeding, and the little penguins at 9.30am, 1.30pm and 3.30pm.

The café is open until 4.30pm and is a great place to stop to enjoy fantastic coffee, delicious snacks and a range of freshly prepared dishes from the menu.

A Short History of our Aquarium

In 1954, shoe retailer Les Mills installed a large goldfish tank in his store. He later filled it with tropical fish that his son Ian had purchased from Wellington.

The tank proved so popular that Les, a member of Napier's Thirty Thousand Club, was given £500 to establish a public aquarium in the basement of Napier’s War Memorial Hall, which opened to the public on the 14th of December 1957.

Napier's Aquarium on Marine Parade

Just under twenty years later in 1976, the aquarium had moved to a purpose-built site at the southern end of Marine Parade, where the aquarium still resides today. This impressive new building welcomed 230,082 visitors in its first year!

Then in 2002, the National Aquarium completed an $8 million redevelopment that included its new 1.5 million litre Oceanarium exhibit. It was renamed The National Aquarium of New Zealand and was opened to the public by Prime Minister Helen Clark on the 14th of March 2002.

We can't wait to show you our world.

Opening Hours

Daily from 9:00am - 5:00pm
(including public holidays)
last entry 4:30pm


Marine Parade, Napier

+64 6 834 1404

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While every endeavour has been taken by the National Aquarium of New Zealand to ensure that the information on this website is accurate and up to date, National Aquarium of New Zealand shall not be liable for any loss suffered through the use, directly or indirectly, of information on this website. Information contained has been assembled in good faith. Some of the information available in this site is from the New Zealand Public domain and supplied by relevant government agencies. National Aquarium of New Zealand cannot accept any liability for its accuracy or content. Portions of the information and material on this site, including data, pages, documents, online graphics and images are protected by copyright, unless specifically notified to the contrary. Externally sourced information or material is copyright to the respective provider.

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