Journey to the Abyss

Journey to the Abyss:
Inside the Centre, your journey to the deep continues at the “Rocky Shore” gallery.  A huge variety of plants and animals will live here in large and small, rock pools. There’s even a neat “Touch Gently” pool where you’ll be able to see and learn about marine life up close.

Your next stop is the “Soft Bottoms” gallery: a display about life in and on soft sediments.

Here you’ll be able to see and learn about fish like skates, rays, flat fish, cat sharks, and even elephant fish.  You’ll also get a chance to learn about the bizarre, unseen marine life that lives in the sand or mud.

Your path then leads you under the entrance jetty where you’ll see stingrays gliding past you on one side, while you’ll catch glimpses of the massive kelp forest tank on the other side.

The giant kelp forests of Cook Strait teem with life, and are vital nursery areas for many fish and other se life.

The "Kelp Forest" exhibit features an 8m deep, million-litre aquarium containing a forest of living giant kelp which is the world’s fastest growing plant. The exhibit is open to the sky and you can see it through the tallest acrylic window in the Southern Hemisphere.

As you look at this swaying, living forest, you may be able to see Little Blue Penguins swimming and feeding among the kelp fronds.

These penguins will live in a special sanctuary above the kelp tank on the top level of the Centre where you’ll also be able to get up close and learn more about these iconic residents of Cook Strait.

Your journey continues down onto one of Cook Strait’s shallow rocky reefs –the final resting place of one of the hundreds of ships wrecked in the Strait’s turbulent waters.

The "Shallow Reef and Shipwrecks" exhibit highlights one of the most diverse habitats in New Zealand; they’re home to thousands of plants and animals. 

A few kilometres offshore the reefs are deeper and darker.
The “Deep Reef” exhibit brings visitors face to face with some of the large fish commonly found on these reefs like school sharks, groper, and trumpeter.

From there, you’ll descend down, down, down through undersea canyons into the blackness of "The Abyss".

In the Abyss, you’ll be able to walk through the skeleton of a whale that has died and fallen to the bottom of the sea where it becomes both home and food for a very unique group of marine animals. 

Both live and interactive displays show some of the bizarre creatures found at these depths in Cook Strait like hagfish, ghost sharks, spider crabs and other rarely seen species.

From the deepest part of your journey, you head back up towards the surface.  On the way, you pass through the "Ocean Drifters" display, a specially built acrylic tunnel where you’ll be surrounded by moon jellyfish.