Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World and Antarctic Encounter
Having two stingrays flapping at either side of my legs was definitely not an average Tuesday afternoon for me!
But that’s exactly what I found myself doing when I donned my wetsuit and took the plunge during a Stingray Splash encounter at Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World.
The best thing is, only two people are allowed to enter the water with a guide at any one time, so you’ll have these gentle giants all to yourself as I soon found out.
I have to say I was slightly apprehensive about stepping into the tank with these magnificent creatures. They might look graceful, but when it comes down to it, that tail of theirs can pack a mighty punch. Or a serious sting, in their case.
But Becky, my guide, quickly reassured me that as long as I didn’t step on a stingray or startle it, I should be OK.
Armed with a bucket of tasty fish to tempt my soon-to-be-stingray buddies, we gently lowered ourselves into their tank and waded over to the camera, which was taking pics of my experience as we went along.
It wasn’t just the 200kg Short Tailed Stingray I had to keep a lookout for, as there were Kahawai and Kingfish swimming around my legs, who were also keen for a bite as I soon found out.
So as I grabbed some fish in my hand, ready to feed the patiently waiting stingray, a fish would pop up and cheekily take it without so much as a thank you.
I soon got wise to this, and kept a firm grip on the fish while I waited for a stingray to glide on over.
When you see a stingray swimming along, you don’t realize just how big their mouth is. It’s huge. A gaping hole which just screams, “Feed me, feed me!”. The trick was to just drop the fish in without getting any fingers caught along the way.
Once I got the hang of it, I actually started to relax a bit more and was less worried about stepping on a stingray. I was more focused on keeping those other pesky fish away from the tucker.
Becky even told me that they’d taken a liking to me as they were literally rising up out of the water around me, their massive two metre wingspans flapping as if their life depended it. I wasn’t sure if it was me, or the massive bucket of fish I was carrying that was the attraction.
But unfortunately my 30 minute encounter with these majestic creatures ended too soon, and I had to leave them to their underwater world.
It was an amazing experience, and a chance to get a much closer look at stingrays than you might get snorkelling or diving when they are a bit of a distance away.
And the best thing is, you don’t actually need any diving or snorkelling experience to do this, but a sense of adventure helps!
The Stingray Splash costs $69 and is just one of four encounters you can have at Kelly Tarlton’s, as there’s also Shark Survival, Snorkel Safari and Discover Scuba.
Kelly Tarlton’s opened in 1985 and is a great way to discover the exciting marine life under Auckland’s waterfront.
It was created by New Zealander Kelly Tarlton, a diver, explorer, inventor and storyteller, to share his love of the sea.
Kelly Tarlton’s can be found at 23 Tamaki Drive, Orakei, Auckland. It is open from 9am until 6pm, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
There is a shuttle service from the Sky City Atrium entrance, on the hour, every hour. It’s $2 per person, one way.