Our Centre

Our Centre's facilities include the historic Island Bay Bait Shed, now known as the "Bait House Aquarium" and the old Island Bay Surf Club we call "Octopus Headquarters".

How to find us easily

Bait House Aquarium

The Bait House Aquarium houses one of the largest collections of local marine life in New Zealand. During weekdays, it's the focal point for schools and other groups that book visits. Inside, visitors can see, learn about, and have close up encounters with some of the amazing variety of marine animals and plants that live in Cook Strait, right on our front doorstep - Wellington's South Coast.

Our habitat-based exhibits are home for hundreds of local marine animals and plants that we consider "ambassadors" for their kind. Many of the marine animals we care for at the Centre were either donated by local fishers or born at either our Centre or NIWA's Aquaculture Research Facility in Mahanga Bay. All the marine animals in our care are treated as honoured guests and we use the best possible methods to ensure their wellbeing. Click here for our animal welfare policy.

The Bait House Aquarium is also open to the public without booking from 10 am to 3 pm every Sunday for our Open Sunday Programme.

Octopus HQ

Octopus Headquarters is the starting point for all our booked school and other group visits. It's where we meet groups for a brief informal introduction, give parents a chance to have a good cup of coffee or tea, and a biscuit before heading out to explore the Bait House and rocky shore.

Restroom facilities are located in the headquarters which has a fully equipped kitchen and a large main hall with a fantastic view overlooking the fishing boats in Island Bay,Taputeranga Island and the spectacular mountains of the South Island.

Function venues

Both the Bait House Aquarium and Octopus Headquarters are unique venues for Birthday Parties, Weddings, and other special events and occasions. Click here for more photos of our facilities.

For school or group bookings please us contact us.