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Kelly Tarlton's freshens up after buyout

Think commercial Auckland tourist destination, think Kelly Tarlton’s. But it's about to get a serious sprucing up – to the tune of $5.5 million – after Merlin Entertainments acquired Kelly Tarlton’s in 2011.

Think commercial Auckland tourist destination, think Kelly Tarlton’s. But it's about to get a serious sprucing up – to the tune of $5.5 million – after Merlin Entertainments acquired Kelly Tarlton’s in 2011.

The venue will relaunch as Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium, which is Merlin's leading aquarium brand, and will see it emerge with a new layout and exhibit structure, additions to theming and ambience, extension of audio visual displays and an interactive trail enabling junior explorers to recreate the life and works of Kelly Tarlton himself, the Kiwi adventurer, diver, explorer and inventor behind the original vision.

Kelly Tarlton’s underground Antarctic penguin enclosure will undergo a full transformation, for one.

“Our penguins are one of the many reasons our guests visits us and are always amazed with our collection. Our new experience will ensure guests can spend as much time as they like with the penguins and get to know their individual personalities and traits,” said general manager James Thomas.

There will also be a greater emphasis placed on the journey around New Zealand and Antarctic waters, visitor interaction and the role Kelly Tarlton’s plays in sea life conservation.

The aquarium will remain open to the public, with renovations taking place over five months in isolation.

Upon completion of renovations the aquarium will have 10 themed zones, more than 30 live animal displays and 80 different species, with 3 million litres of water and producing 4 tonnes of snow daily.

“This is a very exciting move for Kelly Tarlton’s,” Thomas said. “The renovations will put our local attraction on the map and ensure that that we offer New Zealanders and our international visitors a truly world-class experience."