Marineland, Napier, New Zealand | CruiseBe
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Marineland, Napier

Natural sights
nature, beauty nature, attractions, marine mammal park, aquaria

Marineland of New Zealand was a marine mammal park in Napier, New Zealand. The park opened in 1965 and closed to the public in 2008. It has had several species of native marine wildlife, including the common dolphin, the New Zealand fur seal, little blue penguin and gannets. Marineland also has California sea lions, a sulphur crested cockatoo, otters and more.



The history of Marineland began in 1964 when an Auckland architectural firm was commissioned by Napier City under mayor Peter Tait to design an aquarium and dolphin pool. In late January 1965 Marineland caught its first common dolphin, Daphne, and the facility opened two days later. In 1969 two dolphins died when vandals broke in and fed them nails.

By the end of the 1960s the site had exhibited dusky dolphins, California sea lions, leopard seals and New Zealand fur seals.


The year 1970 saw bottlenose dolphins and weddell seals welcomed to the site. In 1976 four small clawed otters arrived from Melbourne Zoo. A year later the current General Manager, Gary Macdonald was appointed.


A new grandstand was built and Marineland saw yellow-eyed penguins and little blue penguins lay eggs for the first time including some successful hatchings.


A New Zealand Lotteries Commission grant was given for a new Marine Education Centre in 1991 and one year later a "Swim With Dolphins" programme began. In 1996 vandals broke into the site for a second time. Redevelopments of many areas and accommodations for animals at the site took place.


Closes to the public in September 2008 when Kelly the last remaining dolphin dies.


Marineland is transferred to National Aquarium of New Zealand.

In September 2013, Napier City Council announced that Marineland was to be demolished and replaced with a Skatepark.


  • Common dolphin
    • Kelly - She arrived on 13 December 1974, died on 11 September 2008. Early findings indicate cause of death may be due to stomach cancer. His death triggered the closure of Marineland
    • Shona - Arrived on 13 December 1974, died on 7 April 2006 due to old age.
  • California sea lion: Where housed in pools totaling over 600,000 litres. They are used in daily shows along with the dolphins.
    • Rosey - She was born at Marineland in 1984 and is a fully mature breeding female. Has now died.
    • Makea - Born on 15 December 1990 and is a fully trained show animal. has now died.
    • Cody - Makea's younger sister, born on 17 December 1991. Has now died.
    • Trinity (born at M. Napier on 17 December 1997). He was successfully hand raised by the staff after being rejected by his mother. Has now died.
    • Orion - Born at M.Napier on 22 December 1997 and will be trained to be a show animal.
    • Dakota - Youngest female sea lion who was born on 12 December 2004. She is now weaned, and in training for our daily shows.
    • Rufus - The newest addition to Marineland's sea lion family. He was born on 22 December 2004. He has also been weaned and has begun his show training. Has now died.
  • New Zealand fur seal: Had either been brought in sick or injured, or have been bred from animals brought to the park sick and injured.
    • Angel - Brought into Marineland on 12 June 1991. He is now retired from the shows, but participates in the Marine Animal Encounter Tours. Angel died on the 27 July 2009.
    • Primrose - She was born at Marineland on 28 December 1992. She is retired from shows and is a mature breeding female. Has now died.
    • Bart - He was born at Marineland on 7 January 1997. He is in training as a show animal. Has now died.
    • Monty - She was sent to Marineland on 9 August 1999 for recovery. She is now used in shows. Has now died.
    • Molly - She was brought to Marineland on 20 June 2000. She is now used in shows.
    • Mr. Bo Jangles - Is the son of Primrose and Angel. He was born on 26 December 2003. He made his show debut on Marineland's 40th Anniversary and is continuing his training.
    • Pania - She was born 16 December 2007 to Primrose. Sired by Angel.
    • Ollie - Born to Primrose. Sired by Angel. Does most of the seal photos.
    • Iha - Marinelands latest addition. She does most of the swim with the seal encounters.
  • Little blue penguins: There is a breeding colony of little blue penguins established from sick and injured birds. have been moved to Napiers national aquarium
  • Australasian gannet: Marineland's gannet colony has also been built up from sick and injured animals. They are free to fly away but have formed their own colony and choose to stay in the park. Have now died.
  • Sulphur crested cockatoo: Called Bobby. Bobby came to Marineland when the park first did the pirate shows in 1988.


The final manager of Napier's Marineland, Gary Macdonald, resigned on 18 November 2009 after 32 years at Marineland after investigations found he falsified documentation to keep wild animals illegally.

"What I did was totally wrong & I should've been informing DOC of exactly what I was doing," said Mr Macdonald in live statements after the investigation. Investigations into the council-owned tourist attraction were started by The Department of Conservation about the false paperwork on 11 November 2009.

Napier City Council chief executive of the time Neil Taylor explained the investigations showed three or more wild seal pups were documented as being born in Marineland, enabling the facility to keep them rather than release the animals back to the wild.

The council probe revealed false declarations were filed in 1996, 2006, and 2007, stating in all cases that the pups had arrived malnourished, harassed, or at risk for treatment.

Marineland has been closed since April 2008 while the council decides the future of the facility.

DOC completed an investigation but decided against prosecution of Marineland, satisfied with Mr Macdonald's resignation.

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