In your wildest dreams, you might have imagined a live underground penguin colony; at Kelly Tarlton’s Penguin Encounter, it’s an amazing reality. For full insight into this unique self-sustaining population of king and gentoo penguins, make sure you pick up the free brochure, which details the establishment of a full simulated Antarctic environment, complete with saltwater pools, in the heart of subtropical Auckland. You’ll be able to board heated, soundproof Snow Cats and enter the frozen landscape.

Just as awe-inspiring is Underwater World, the dream and final project of the late Kelly Tarlton, a famous New Zealand diver. At Underworld World, visitors travel on a moving walkway through an acrylic tunnel under the ocean. Surrounded by giant stingrays, eels, sharks, and over 1,500 fish, you’re treated to a diver’s view without having to wear the wet suit. Stingray Bay shows off the remarkable creatures at close quarters. This area also includes the adjacent NIWA Interactive Room for kids, a refreshment kiosk, and large educational touch screens. This is a special attraction for all ages; allow 45 minutes to 2 hours. Ring ahead for daily feeding times.