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Sharks! I'm not sure what it is about apex predators that fascinate me, but they do, and sharks do in particular. So today while not quite the realisation of a dream was a pretty close approximation, and has certainly reignited the drive to learn to scubadive so I can do it in the wild.

So yes I did the snorkelling encounter at Napier aquarium. Thirty minutes in the oceanarium tank floating around on the surface in wet suit and flippers with no one else as the fish swim around beneath you if they chose. You can swim over about 50% of the tank, and there are four school sharks, two sting ray and assorted other fish. I was able to get pretty close to the sharks and rays, or well they got near to me. Oddly enough the only thing that worried me was accidentally brushing the sting ray, so I ended up mostly keeping my hands near my chest. I think the best moment was swimming along next to the biggest 3m shark for about a minute with it about a metre or so away, though it did swim closer beneath me at times. Oddly enough it's the ray and other fish that suprised me the most, they are so much larger than you realised when your in the tank with them than when looking at them through the glass.

Other than that it's a pretty average aquarium though it did give us a chance to photograph a kiwibird, and to see the endangered native Tautara lizard. It also had an unexpectedly entertaining diver feeding the fish, certainly knew how to entertain the small children.

From there we stayed briefly in Napier for some deliciously locally made gellato. Then we did the long (300km) drive down to Wellington. We've got a couple of nights here to rest and explore before we move down to the South Island. We're staying in a really nice B&B who had a loaf of fresh bread and homemade shortbread biscuits waiting for us when we arrived.

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