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Turtle Rehabilitation Centre

NZ's only Turtle Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release Facility

Kelly Tarlton's Marine Wildlife Trust Turtle Conservation Program

Rescue, Rehabilitate, Release.

Did you know that SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's is the only place in New Zealand that rehabilitates rescued turtles? Discover how we work with these amazing creatures in the Turtle Bay Oceanarium.

Of the seven species of marine turtles, 5 can be found in New Zealand's waters, all of which are classed as endangered, with some being on the verge of extinction. Turtles are generally found in warmer tropical waters but can get washed into colder areas if they are weak from injury or sickness.

SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's voluntarily started a Turtle Rehabilitation Program in 1991 where we treat sick or injured sea turtles found around New Zealand's waters. Green Sea Turtles are the species most commonly brought to SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's, however, we have treated Hawksbill, Olive Ridley and Loggerhead turtles as well.

It was for this reason that Kelly Tarlton's Marine Wildlife Trust was established in 2010, to continue and fund this vital rehabilitation centre.

Our Turtle Hospital


Team Turtle 2023

A video of our Animal Welfare Team working with our team turtle partners the vet team from Auckland Zoo on checking up on our turtles in our care Ngawai and Waewae Toru.

World Turtle Day

Abby the Loggerhead Turtle

Meet Abby - a female loggerhead turtle. She has been with us at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's undergoing rehabilitation after washing up on a New Zealand beach. Abby was positively buoyant (floating!) when she arrived here and had a severe bone infection in one of her flippers. Unfortunately, this meant that she had to have the flipper amputated to save her life.



Hawksbill Turtle Rehabilitation May 2017 CREDIT Grace Watson

Turtle Rehabilitation

Here's our aquarist telling you more about our rehabilitation program as well as a few of our past patients.

Jaxon 2

Jaxon the Loggerhead Turtle Ep1

Found out more about this rescued Loggerhead turtle.


Jaxon the Loggerhead Turtle Ep2

A little bit more about Jaxon the rescued Loggerhead turtle; and general info about the species.

Jaxon was successfully released in March 2019, find out about the release here.

Found sea life needing help?

Who to call if you find a sick turtle needing help Who to call if you find a sick turtle needing help If you see a turtle that is sick, injured or in distress contact your local Department of Conservation office on 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).

Report 1 or 2 sick, injured or distressed animals
Ring the Department of Conservation emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).

Report a group (3 or more) of sick, injured or distressed animals
Ring the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) pest and disease hotline 0800 80 99 66.

Report whale or dolphin strandings
Ring the Department of Conservation emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).

Report Illegal Activity

Ring the Department of Conservation emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).

Illegal activity includes:

  • Disturbing marine mammals
  • Illegal whitebaiting
  • Fishing in marine reserves
  • Killing or catching native wildlife

For more information, please visit the Department of Conservation's website.

Identify a Species

We don't typically provide animal species identification services. If you have a photo of a species you want to identify or record, we recommend you use the iNaturalist website to report your observation. On NatureWatch you can upload your photos as 'observations', and ask for help in identifying any species you find. Experts including Department of Conservation staff who are regularly on NatureWatch to provide help.