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Education From Our Place to Yours

Education From Our Place to Yours

Our amazing keepers and education team have some great activities and fun lessons for the whole family
to get involved in during lockdown.
See the range of activities below which provide a unique education experience from our place to yours!

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Welcome to our first education session!

Today we’re going to watch a great short film (8mins) about coral restoration - ‘We Live Underwater’. ‘The Jetlagged’ are setting out to give threatened coral ecosystems a new chance by building an artificial reef out of ‘Biorock’ on an Indonesian island. Learn about the special feature that the structure will be equipped with to give coral super powers. Find out how they got on 6 months later when they came back and checked on their progress.

✍️ Your activity
Draw a picture to show us what your artificial reef would look like.


In today’s lesson go exploring the depths of our ocean and see what you can find!
Some sea creatures are so new to us they don’t even have names! Watch this stunning film (1min) to reveal a hidden world of deep sea creatures off the coast of Puerto Rico.

✍️ Your Activity
Can you create your own new deep sea species? Let your imagination run wild and get creative. You can use anything from paint and crayons to draw a picture, or even playdoh or Lego to build a model of your own deep sea creature. Perhaps describe your creature and how it swims and perhaps what it might eat.

Learn all about our wonderful native icon the Kiwi in today’s lesson.
Watch our team member Scotty chat about all the things that make them unique.

✍️ Your Activity
Time to take a quiz to see what you’ve learnt.

“The Sea & Me” documents established successes around Australia, places where world-class conservation and recreation have been working hand in hand. Enjoy watching this film (27mins) which shows breathtaking footage of the extraordinary seas and marine life surrounding Australia. It takes an in-depth and personal look at the inspiring people who look after our oceans. The movie also explores communities that have had marine sanctuaries for up to 20 years, places such as Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef, Tasmania’s Maria Island, and the Great Barrier Reef.

✍️ Your Activity: 
Explore the internet and discover what marine nature reserves we have here in New Zealand and how they are helping our ecosystems.


It’s breakfast time for our Seahorses at the National Aquarium. These are Pot-Bellied Seahorse (Hippocampus Abdominals) and are found all around New Zealand, but are very hard to spot.

You can see them enjoying a feast of tiny shrimp. Seahorses love to eat shrimp – they could eat over 50 of them every day!

They’ve a camouflaged pattern on their bodies which allows them to sit super still and wait for a shrimp to swim past. With a quick flick of their head, combined with a sucking motion, the shrimp will be gone in an instant! Seahorses are very picky and will only eat things that look just right – fair enough we say!

Today you’ll learn all about Stop Motion Animation with our National Aquarium of New Zealand educator Karlie.
You will need: a phone or device that you can install the free app on, and some toys or small objects to film. You might also want to find something to prop your device on to keep it still.

✍️ Your Activity:

Make a stop motion video with a conservation message.
Need some inspiration? Check out some of our recent holiday programme Stop Motion Animation action.

We’re getting all floral in today’s lesson. This stunning animation (4mins) beautifully illustrates the secret life of flowers. Many different flowers are growing beautifully and strongly in this world. Taking their roots in the earth, sprouting, blooming, pollinated by birds and insects, living on in spite of rain, wind and storms. They pass on the baton of life, rebirth and decay. Everything in a continuous, endless cycle. 

✍️ Your Activity:
Go outside into your garden and take a moment to look around at the array of nature that surrounds you. Draw a picture of a flower, a tree or your whole garden and take a moment to realise what a beautiful and amazing world we live in. After the isolation period is over you could plant some new flowers in your garden or a pollinating fruit tree.

This film (10mins) takes us to the Andaman Coast in Southern Thailand and in today’s lesson you’ll explore the importance of mangrove forests. Coastal communities are connected to the sea. Their lives depend on it. A key to happiness and life in tropical regions is a healthy mangrove forest. With the ability to store vast amounts of carbon, mangrove forests are key to tackling climate change, but they are under threat worldwide.

✍️ Your Activity:

Does New Zealand have it`s own Mangrove forests? Discover if this is true by searching the internet. If so, where and how can we protect our mangrove forests? Design a poster to highlight the importance of mangrove forests and how they help everyone in the world.


How is it that we didn't know why the ocean was salty until 1979? National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Bob Ballard explains why such a basic question remained a mystery for so long-and where his team finally found the answer in this short clip (1min).

Join our educator Jacque and her friends to learn how to recycle your old scrap pieces of paper!
Recycling is a great way to help look after the resources the world gives us.  Making our own paper out of old paper is super easy and a great way to use it again.
Some of the items used in our video can be replaced with everyday items. Here’s what you’ll need:
•    Container with water
•    Lots of torn up old paper
•    2 frames – one with mesh, the other just the simple frame (you could use an old sieve or embroidery frame)
•    Piece of felt (or an old tea towel)
•    Sponge
•    Old towel to rest on
•    Piece of newspaper

✍️ Your Activity:
Can you find old paper around the house to recycle?  What will you do with the paper you make? How about writing a letter to a friend or family member?  There are written instructions below this video to help.

Soak the old paper in the water – this makes it easier to tear up and make nice and small
•    Put your frames together so the simple frame is on top
•    Scoop it through the water – get enough paper pulp on to cover the mesh
•    Let some of the water drain, then rest it on the towel
•    Remove the simple frame
•    Put the felt (or tea towel) on the pulp – flip the frame over
•    Using the sponge, soak out as much water as possible
•    Remove the mesh frame (if the paper sticks to it, just flick it with your finger)
•    Put the sheet of newspaper on the paper
•    Flip it over and carefully remove the felt (again, do this slowly as some of the paper might stick to the felt)
•    Put it somewhere to dry – this could take up to 24 hours.
•    Once dry – create your artwork!

Learn all about our wonderful Little Penguins with this fun activity sheet.  Discover how fast and far they can swim, learn about family life and what makes their feathers so special. Unscramble words, crack the penguin code and do a special penguin word find.

✍️ Your Activity:
As well as having fun completing the activities on the fact sheet above, how about drawing a wonderful home for Draco (our Penguin of the Year).  What would your home include that would be perfect for a Little Penguin?

Our Little Penguins love to swim at Penguin Cove!

You’ll notice they spend a bit of time ducking, diving and swimming in front of the jets.  Not only does this provide them with some fun exercise and keeps them in tip-top condition, the jets help to replicate the oceans noise and movement. They also help to rotate the water to aid filtration, pushing debris off the surface and ensuring it doesn’t contaminate the penguin’s feathers.

You’ll see Dora swimming at the front of the pool in this short clip because she just loves chatting with visitors.  Even though we don’t have any guests at the moment, our keepers are making sure they’re interacting with her to encourage her to keep on swimming. You’ll see her ducking her head under, keeping an eye out for other penguins – especially Dave as he likes to come and hog the attention. We sometimes see him giving Dora a nudge out of the way as he gets a bit jealous!

Rubbish from all over the world collects in the world’s oceans. Eventually, most of it ends up in one of five known major swirling patches of garbage. These are known as the five gyres. 
For the past 35 years, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists have released buoys into the sea to track ocean current. In this visualization (1min 30 sec), they use the data from these buoys to show just how these garbage gyres form.

✍️ Your Activity:
Can you upcycle anything in your home or garden, to make it work again or give it a different purpose in life? Keeping items out of the rubbish dump will help reduce the great garbage patches around the world. You could upcycle anything, It could be a t-shirt, a toy, an old piece of furniture, take a picture and let us see how you have upcycled an ordinary object? 

Please note, there is an image of a deceased bird shown in the footage below.

View this amazing short film (4mins) showing artist Olivier Ferry create wonderful sand art of the ocean.

✍️ Your Activity:
Get creative and see what outdoor garden items you could use to make a picture, share your nature loving art with us. 

* Please note - We have many followers around the world, so please follow your own country’s regulations (including physical distancing, self-isolation etc) if some ctivities require going outdoors.


Here are some fun National Aquarium colouring in pages for you to print out and complete. 


BBC Earth Unplugged teamed up with the legendary Aardman Animations (creators of Wallace & Gromit and Creature Comforts), to bring you two very special animations featuring iconic moments from Sir David Attenborough’s career. We love them! We’ve picked out two of our favourites below.

✍️ Your Activity: Can you create your own documentary and share it with us?  You could use Stop Motion Animation, we showed you how do to this in a recent post, however if you missed it you can find it further up on this page.



Today Karlie’s got three quick and easy science experiments for you to try at home.

  • Make a Volcano
  • Invisible Ink
  • Ooblek

You’ll find all the things you need listed in the video.  Have fun!

An ‘eggcellent’ lesson this Good Friday. Follow the story of Karere, an Albatross chick from the Northern Royal Albatross colony at Taiaroa Head near Dunedin in this lovely short video (2mins). See her journey from egg, to hatchling and finally  taking her very first flight to leave her nest!

✍️ Your Activity: Head to the DOC website and watch footage of this year’s albatross colony in Dunedin and do some research to answer the following questions: 

  • Can you find out who is the Albatross chick this season on the 24-hour live stream ‘Royal-cam’?
  • Who are the other Royal Albatross families at Taiaroa Head this season?
  • How many kilometres does an Albatross travel within a given year? 
  • How long do juvenile Albatross stay away from the nest site once they leave the nest for the first time? 
  • How long is an Albatross wingspan? 
  • Is there anything you can do to help DOC and these amazing birds?

Join our educator Jacque for a special story time. Today Jacque is reading the story "Little Turtle" with her friends.

In today’s lesson, we take a look back at those animals we’ll never see again on planet earth. This short film (1min30sec) shows a few of these animals and will hopefully encourage all of us to think carefully about how we protect and look after our fellow species.

✍️ Activity: Carry out an internet search and find what animal species have become extinct here in New Zealand. Can you write a short newspaper article about them?
OR Carry out an internet search and find a New Zealand animal that is close to extinction, design a poster that will tell the public why they are endangered and what we can do to help.

Share your amazing journalistic skills with us, we would love to see your articles and posters.

The kiwi bird is a huge icon of New Zealand. Watch this amazing video (5mins) of the Department of Conservation and Kiwi for Kiwis releasing a ‘tribe’ of juvenile kiwis back into their natural habitat. 

✍️ Your Activity:
Did you know that a kiwi egg takes up about 20% of the mother’s body weight? In comparison, a human baby at full term will only take up around 5% of its mother’s body weight. What materials in your house could you use to make a kiwi egg? Draw a picture, make a model, use Play-doh or Salt dough, or even make a woollen pom pom! As you’ve probably eaten all your Easter goodies, how about creating another Kiwi Egg search in your garden.  Show us your amazing Kiwi egg creation below. 

Join our educator Jacque for another story time session with her friends. Today Jacque is reading the story ‘Little Kiwi’.

Mobula Rays make a habit of leaping out of the ocean in amazing acrobatic performances, particularly when they gather in groups. This behaviour is still not truly understood by scientists, though possible reasons could include communication, courtship, feeding, a behaviour to removal parasites or it could just be for fun! 

✍️ Your Activity:
Grab the members of your bubble and see if you can jump like the Mobula Rays, use a tape measure and see who can jump, leap or hop the furthest! Let us know who your Mobula Ray is and how far they leaped!

In today's lesson you'll learn about marine biologist Lisa Becking as she discovers hidden marine lakes filled with jellyfish in Indonesia. Watch as she becomes a modern day explorer going to places where no one’s been before and making astounding discoveries.

✍️ Your Activity:
What adventure would you want to take? What would you discover? Can you write us a short story about your wilderness adventures as a marine biologist, field ecologist or wildlife photographer? Show us your dreams and share your stories with us

Today you’ll learn how different ocean animals can communicate using biofluorescence – a process that’s invisible to our eyes without special lights and cameras.

✍️ Your Activity: 
Did you see our educator Karlie’s science experiment video recently on how to write using invisible ink? Watch and use this trick to communicate in secret to your friends and even create your own code!

A beautifully animated tale about pollution. It tells the story of a whale that helps other sea animals free themselves of plastic and a young boy on a mission to clean up his local beach. 

✍️ Your Activity:
Make something useful from your recycling! Here are two examples from one of our educators bubble.  Tom, aged 5, made a keepsake crocodile box for his bedside table, to keep all his special belongings. Ben, age 9, has made a milk carton into a measuring jug that can be used in the kitchen or out in the garden. 


Watch this amazing clip from the National Geographic’s ‘One Strange Planet’ programme featuring NASA astronauts and Will Smith. It shows you the astounding life-giving organisms called Diatoms. They’re phytoplankton and are one of the ocean species that is responsible for every second breath of oxygen that you breath every day. Wow!

✍️ Your Activity:
Diatoms and phytoplankton are amazing organisms and are kaleidoscopic in shape and colour. Take some time to look around the internet at these life-giving organisms.  Then take some time out and appreciate the wonderful life-giving quality of the ocean. Take one breath now, and the another (the second breath that came from the ocean).

Lets create waves today! First, watch this short BBC documentary about the secrets of ocean waves. It explains how the energy of a wave is transferred into a breaking wave upon a shoreline.

✍️ Your Activity:
Have a go at making your own wave machine in a bottle by watching our education manager Amy and her bubble friend in this video.

Join our educator Karlie for an arty exploration into the true size of some favourite marine life.
You will need:
- Chalk
- Concrete space
- A measuring tape or ruler
- A device to search the web with.
Don’t have chalk, or a driveway? See how many life-sized small sea animals you can fit onto a sheet of paper!

The ocean is the largest unexplored place on Earth - less than 5% of it has been explored! Every meter you dive down is darker and colder, and the pressure on the body increases. But that doesn't stop some amazing animals from overcoming those challenges to live in the depths of the ocean!

Check out this fascinating interactive deep sea infographic by Neal Agarwal.

✍️ Your Activity:
Zoom in on this NZ map to find out how many meters deep the ocean is closest to where you live.

  •  Which animals from the infographic could dive to or live at the depth of your local ocean?

The National Aquarium is situated in Hawke Bay, which averages a depth of around 60 meters. 

  • Next time you go for your walk, try to measure out a distance of 60 meters by taking big steps of 1 meter each.
  • Is 60 meters very far?
  • Use a calculator to work out how many times deeper the Mariana Trench (11,000 metres) is than Hawkes Bay (60 meters)

Being a wildlife cameraman for the BBC Blue Planet takes a lot of grit and determination, but above all else patience. Watch this video of cameraman Ted Grifford as he travels to the remotest parts of the planet.

✍️ Your Activity:
Could you become a wildlife camera operator and film maker? Go out into your garden or on to the beach (in your bubble) and take some video footage of our amazing wildlife. Please share it with us, we would love to see it. 

Do you enjoy collecting shells that you find washed up on the beach? Well in today’s lesson, our educator Jacque will talk to you about our amazing William Colenso shell collection. 

William Colenso was one of New Zealand’s first citizen scientists, and he gathered all of the shells in this collection between 120 and 175 years ago!

Craft along with Jacque as you learn all about the amazing adaptations of the Little Penguin.
You will need:



How tough are you?  In today’s lesson you can learn all about Antarctica.  It’s one of the most beautiful yet hostile places on the planet.  Not only do animals like penguins and seals survive, but humans have been exploring the continent for hundreds of years.  Could you survive like the Antarctic explorers of the past? Think of men like Robert Scott, Ernest Shackleton, Roald Amundsen and New Zealand’s own Sir Edmund Hillary. 

✍️Your Activity:
Research some of the incredible explorers of the past and how technology has changed over the years to help humans survive in Antarctica. Would you be able to survive like they did?  Here's a great video to learn about Sir Ernest Shackleton's expedition.
Make your own ‘ice’ cave in the house (ask Mum or Dad first!).  Use blankets and anything else you can find around the house.  Winter is on its way here in New Zealand - no heaters allowed in the cave, so to stay warm, make your cave small and cosy.   Take some photos and share with us how your cave looks. 

Explore the Rocky Shore from your own home. Get to know the creatures of our local rocky shore with Jacque, our National Aquarium educator.

When safe to do so, how about exploring for yourself when restriction levels are lifted. There's a fun activity you can do below when you're able to head out.

✍️ Your Activity:
See what shells you can see. Can you identify any of them? Take a photo of them so you can do some research at home.

  • What can you find out about these small animals?
  • What sort of animal would call that shell home?
  • What would they eat?
  • How would they feed?
  • How would they move around?
  • Who might their predators be?
  • Have a close look at the shell – are there any animals living on them?  Barnacles and spiral worms can be very small, but they are animals living on that shell.


Can you name an area of Napier that’s 5 minutes from town, has an awesome walking track and is home to over 70 species of birds and 29 species of fish? It’s the Ahuriri Estuary! In today’s video, Aquarium educator Jacque tells us more about this fascinating ecosystem in our very own backyard.

✍️ Your Activity:
Download the activity sheet and take a walk around the Ahuriri Estuary.

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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