Although we are regular visitors to the Hawkes Bay, we had never been to the National Aquarium along the foreshore in Napier. That was rectified today, when we joined hordes of people all doing the same. Most seemed to have a large posse of kids with them, babes in arms, toddlers in pushchairs, with several siblings hanging onto to the handles and /or parent’s hand for dear life. Plus the grand-parents tagging along too. No, we are not really complaining, it was nice to see so many family groups out enjoying themselves.
The Aquarium is a handsome building, and we were pleased to discover that our aged status entitled us to a reasonable discount, enough to allow a visit to the cafe later.
It wasn’t just about fish, we discovered, but all sorts of other creatures who live in or around water. Such as these Australian Water Dragons, who like to rest on branches that overhang streams. When alarmed, they drop into the water, and can remain submerged for 30 minutes or so, waiting for the danger to pass.
Australian Water Dragon
We spotted one of the two American Alligators, the other was lurking in the water, trying to hide from us. At six years old, they are still youngsters. The alligator has survived in the same form for 200 million years, we read, obviously an extremely successful life form!
The penguin feeding drew a huge crowd, and we gathered together, waiting, and waiting until at last the keeper arrived, with a young boy and his Mum in tow. They had paid extra to take part in a “penguin encounter” and watched carefully as the keeper explained how to feed the small fish to the penguins. Most of the penguins in residence have had some mishap or other in their lives, some are missing a flipper, or toes, and the Aquarium takes care of them as they are unable to fend for themselves in the wild.
Feeding the penguins.
From here we followed the crowds to the Oceanarium to watch the divers hand feed the sharks and other fish. The travelator took us through the underwater perspex tunnel, and we watched in awe as fish, sharks and rays glided overhead. There were squeals and gasps as the youngsters realised that the big fish were all around them, and so close.
On the Travelator
The diver arrived with his pail of fish, and the water began to boil as fish, both big and small, came in for their share. Some of the more assertive fish were deftly moved aside, while the diver offered fish to others who were not getting their share.
Feeding the fish
And we had to take a selfie, of course
Once the feeding frenzy was over, we looked in some more tanks and saw a turtle, swimming backwards and forwards, all on his lonesome. Hundreds of plastic shopping bags were strung up, to remind people of the danger these pose to sea creatures, who eat them, as they look just like jellyfish floating in the water.
Mr Seahorse has babies in his pouch
Our visit over, we retired to the cafe to rest our weary feet, and enjoy a world famous Rush Munroe ice cream. We can highly recommend the Aquarium – although you may prefer to wait until the school holidays are over.