is an aquatic centre, named after its founder. he was a larger than life figure: diver, salvage expert, Kiwi self-made engineer and early conservationist. Pip remembers the centre as an exciting visit of her childhood, especially the penguins.
We found somewhere rather sadder and more constrained. The penguins are in a small, enclosed space, surrounded by signs emphasising the temporary nature of their accommodation. Indeed there was quite a lot of rebuilding going on around us. The stingrays patrol up and down their tank. The big tank has a tunnel underneath it, so you can see fish over your head and alongside as you are carried on the walkway. Beyond are smaller tanks with more exotic fish, seahorses and these octopi.
The place was pioneering when it opened, both to educate the public about the Antarctic and supporting conservation efforts. They stress the big investment and facelift underway. We left, though, with the feeling that it has been overtaken by better places. It was interesting to see Emperor penguins upclose, but the display was a mile away from the Antarctic centre in Christchurch
we visited last time we were in NZ. And the aquarium does not compete with the Lisbon centre
. Many of these places are forms of zoos, with all the moral ambiguity attached to keep animals (particularly large nomadic species) in captivity. If it cannot be done in ways which protect the animals, promote education and support conservation, then it is questionable whether it should be done at all.