It has been a busy week of events in Auckland and we’ve really enjoyed presenting at dive clubs, Auckland Zoo and at a home school event.

Our first lecture was for Global Dive and this was a great start to our time in Auckland. We then went on to present for Auckland Zoo’s Friends of the Zoo and had a fantastic time. It was one of our favourite events and we really enjoyed exploring the zoo afterwards. It has been many years since either of us has been to a zoo and I have always been unsure of the benefit of zoos in general. Having said that, I was delighted to see that Auckland Zoo has a strong focus on education and conservation and animal welfare is at the core of their work.

There is an animal enrichment programme for each type of animal, to ensure they are kept healthy and occupied, and the enclosure information displays focused on what visitors can do to help: be it refraining from buying palm oil products in order to protect vital rainforest habitat or introducing a wildlife friendly garden at home to encourage local endangered species to flourish. I was particularly taken with the Asian Short-Claw Otters and Red Panda whilst Nicholas enjoyed seeing the Hippopotamuses (his favourite animal). By far the best part though was that we saw a Kiwi! We have wanted to see this iconic species since we arrived in New Zealand six months ago and were thrilled that two graced us with their presence in the dark Kiwi enclosure.

We also saw some Tuatara, which are reptiles found only in New Zealand. There are two species of Tuatara alive in the world today, which flourished around 200 million years ago and are not related to any other species of reptile. The zoo runs a Tuatara breeding programme and has helped to recover Tuatara from the edge of extinction by homing zoo-bred Tuatara upon New Zealand’s offshore (and pest free) islands.



We met an enthusiastic and lovely lady called Carol during our event at the zoo and she decided we simply MUST visit Kelly Tarltons aquarium during our time in Auckland. She loved the work we are doing and offered to treat us to a day out at the aquarium. We were tickled pink and humbled by her kindness and couldn’t wait for that day to arrive. Carol has spent the last six months living in Auckland and is a regular visitor to Auckland Zoo and Kelly Tarltons.

Before that we had an Auckland Zoological Society home school event to complete and it was a great afternoon for the children and adults present. There was a “shark o’metre” competition to guess the length of different sharks, a lego shark competition, face painting, a coin shark to fill with donations towards Friends for Sharks and our children’s lecture. The competition prizes were shark sweets and the event raised $98.50 from the coin shark.



Our day with Carol at Kelly Tarltons was a perfect birthday treat for Nicholas. We enjoyed a behind the scenes tour, where we learnt that the aquarium runs a turtle rehabilitation programme for injured turtles found in New Zealand waters and that the aquarium is within what used to be Auckland’s sewerage tanks that discharged into the Auckland harbour area. Mr Tarlton was a Kiwi with a passion for the oceans and he converted the tanks into Kelly Tarltons. He was the creator of the first curved underwater viewing tunnel in the world and this design has since been used in aquariums worldwide.

We couldn’t get enough of watching the stingray and shark displays throughout the day and the shark display contained Sevengill sharks, School sharks, Ragged Tooth sharks and a gorgeous Wobbegong shark. Each of the sharks has a different personality and I enjoyed hearing about their traits and preferences. We visited the King and Gentoo penguin enclosure and learnt about their enrichment programme. The penguins are provided with tasks to complete in order to obtain their food, such as sitting on a rock when commanded during feeding time, as this helps to engage their intelligence and prevent boredom from creeping in. This is not done as a show at all and is purely for the penguins benefit. They are also provided with snow days, windy days, toys and activities to ensure their lives are healthy and balanced.

The aquarium exhibits have a strong focus on conservation and I learnt that although sea horses have been protected since 2004, 25 million are traded each year! Also that Mako is Maori for shark. By far my favourite fact is that Carl the Blue Cod, who is a small fish and lives in the shark tank, is very dominant and occasionally enjoys nibbling the staff divers!

Nicholas really enjoyed admiring the fish displays and had a go at feeding the eels. We also enjoyed a birthday lunch with Carol at a nearby restaurant and a gingerbread shark biscuit for Nicholas. It was a joy to spend time being ‘tourists’ for the day and thank you to Carol for a great and educational day out.



Our next lecture was for Performance Diver as their inaugural event for ‘Sharktember’ in aid of Project AWARE. We really enjoyed an evening of shark talk, fundraising and refreshments. The crew at Performance Diver raised $111.80 towards Friends for Sharks.



The next day we did an impromptu event for our hosts in Auckland, Catherine and Andy Watson. They have very kindly allowed us to park on their driveway for two weeks and invited some friends over for an afternoon of shark talk. Thirty people attended, mostly children, and we had a great time.

That’s week one in Auckland completed, though we did have some bad news during the week. Nicholas’s 4.5 year old laptop has finally died and with just one (very old) laptop between us and six days to go, we have another four events and a residency interview to complete before we fly to Australia. We also have ten lectures to write and are hoping we can find access to a second computer somewhere in Australia in order to do so.


Thank you to everyone that has attended our events in Auckland so far. We have now completed 73 shark conservation events and presented to 5774 people!