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12 Rays of Christmas

  • Sunday 14th December 2014


We're bringing some underwater festive cheer by creating our own version of our favourite Christmas song.

On the first day of Christmas, Kelly Tarlton's gave to me.. A Stingray named Phoebe

Phoebe the stingray is one of Kelly Tarltons' most famous residents. Guesstimated to be in her fifties (but we don't like to ask a lady her age!), she was caught by Kelly Tarlton himself and is one of the aquarium's earliest residents. During her time here, she has given birth to multiple stingray pups, and in fact is the mother of the other stingrays she shares a tank with.

On the second day of Christmas, Kelly Tarlton's gave to me..Two Gentoo Chicks

It's breeding season here at Kelly Tarlton's! Our Gentoo penguins have been busy over the last few months building nests, finding partners, laying eggs and now bringing up their young ones. Gentoo chicks only keep their baby plumage for a short time before they get their adult feathers, but it takes a bit longer for them to learn to swim and be able to feed themselves. Our new babies will be living in a special creche for the next few months - you can spot their special area in the penguin enclosure as you walk by.

On the third day of Christmas, Kelly Tarlton's gave to me.. Three Turtles Swimming

Kelly Tarlton's provides New Zealand's only sea turtle rehabilitation centre. Every year we are alerted to a turtle having washed up on a beach and in desperate need of care. Typically not native to New Zealand's cold waters, they wash up when they have something stuck in their tummy or not well. The staff here, in association with the SEA LIFE Trust, nurse them back to health and release them back into the ocean to live out their long lives. The eagle-eyed can spot two turtles in our Shipwreck Discovery Tank, while the other is getting stronger in our back of house area.

On the fourth day of Christmas, Kelly Tarlton's gave to me.. Four calling Birdos

The department who look after our fish are called 'Fishos'! And the team who care for the penguins? The Birdos. These dedicated ladies (yes, it's an all female team) have an incredibly physical job - each morning they scrub the enclosure from top to bottom before laying a fresh layer of snow, before they spend a busy day feeding the penguins and caring for the baby chicks.

On the fifth day of Christmas, Kelly Tarlton's gave to me... Five Gold Fish

We couldn't resist! In our largest tank - the Shipwreck Discovery tank - themed in homage to Kelly Tarlton's origins as a Shipwreck diver - lives a big population of fish native to New Zealand waters. One of the most stunning residents is a school of golden snapper. See these being fed by our divers by hand at 2pm daily - except Tuesday and Thursday.

On the sixth day of Christmas, Kelly Tarlton's gave to me.. Six Salty Starfish

One of the most popular parts of Kelly Tarlton's for our smallest visitors is our Rock Pools - where children can find out more about things they will see on a beach. Did you know that starfish blow their whole tummy out of their body to digest their food? If you're lucky you can check it out up close at our Rock Pool - not to mention seeing a crayfish super magnified with our underwater camera.

On the seventh day of Christmas, Kelly Tarlton's gave to me.. Seven Koura Snapping

One of the most interesting encounters we offer at Kelly Tarlton's is the Fish Gallery feed every day at midday. One of our aquarists (yes, a Fisho!) will take you around each tank and show you how we care for the diverse range of animals in here. Koura are a native crayfish, and share their home with the Giant Kokopu - which doesn't look like a member of the whitebait family, but it sure is!

On the eighth day of Christmas, Kelly Tarlton's gave to me.. Eight Magic Wands

We spend our time providing wonderful family experiences and make each and every one of our guests feel welcome. And we never forget that there are children in need who might not get the change to visit us on their own. Kelly Tarlton's has a charity called Merlin's Magic Wand, which enables children a chance to experience the magic of the aquarium. Each year we give away thousands of tickets to charities like Child Cancer, Ronald McDonald House, and the Starship Foundation, plus provide support to schools around New Zealand.

On the ninth day of Christmas, Kelly Tarlton's gave to me.. Nine Sharks Gliding

Our memory campaign is full of fabulous stories about seeing these huge sharks for the first time gliding above you in our famous tunnel. Sharks are pretty unique - they are one of the only creatures in the world that are able to move silently, and their special electrical sensors (otherwise known as the ampulla of Lorenzii) gives them heightened ability to sense things in the water.

On the tenth day of Christmas, Kelly Tarlton's gave to me.. Ten Crayfish Hiding

Did you know that some of our crayfish are the oldest residents of Kelly Tarlton's? We've got some crayfish that are in their seventies - and could live for decades more. When crayfish moult (how often this is depends on how old they are) they hide in our handy caves while they grow their new shells.

Check back each day to watch our story unfold!