Port Stephens Holiday Guide Spring: Ready to host school holiday fun

LEARN MORE: Take the opportunity to learn more about the sharks and rays of our oceans at Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters.

LEARN MORE: Take the opportunity to learn more about the sharks and rays of our oceans at Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters.

The Port Stephens Holiday Guide is now available. You can access the full publication online here.

Make sure you take the opportunity to visit some the region's amazing tourist attractions.

At Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters, big changes have been underway and the team is excited to share their new facility with visitors.

Irukandji has now opened its brand new aquarium at the corner of Jessie Road and Nelson Bay Road at Anna Bay.

For the last five years owners Ryan and Lia Pereira have been offering amazing interactive experiences with a variety of sharks and rays at their previous venue in Bobs Farm.

It has been their dream to open a bigger, better venue and in July this year it finally happened.

The new Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters still offers the same up-close encounters with a range of species of sharks and rays, but now with some added activities.

HOLIDAY GUIDE: Click on the cover to get access to the entire publication online now.

HOLIDAY GUIDE: Click on the cover to get access to the entire publication online now.

Irukandji's mission is to offer a different perspective to the usual narrative we hear about sharks and rays.

Instead of focusing on the negative experiences humans have had with these animals, they aim to teach you about their true nature; that they are intelligent, affectionate and exciting animals that play a very important role in the ocean and deserve to be protected.

The new aquarium features a large, natural style lagoon with sandy beaches that visitors are invited to wade in to feed and pet the animals.

In this lagoon you can find eagle rays, enormous smooth rays, beautiful leopard whiptail rays, exotic zebra sharks and tawny nurse sharks as big as 3m long.

There's also Port Jackson Sharks, eastern fiddler rays, brown-banded bamboo sharks and more. Although the lagoon is 3m deep in some areas, the animals find their way to the shallows to feed and interact with guests.

All visitors to Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters can choose to feed the sharks and rays from either outside the pools, or from inside the warm water of the lagoon. The animals will swim around you and even come and float over your lap.

For those that want to explore the deeper water, there's now the chance to get in there and snorkel with the bigger animals.

Adults and children over 12 can spend some extra special time viewing and taking photos of the underwater world by booking a guided snorkel.

This takes place twice a day and bookings are essential so check the website for more information.

There's also the chance to join an exclusive private tour feeding the largest tawny nurse or zebra sharks. These tours are capped at only a handful of guests so it's an extra special close-up encounter that you'll never forget.

The zebra shark feeding happens twice a day and the tawny nurse shark feeding happens only once a day in the afternoon, so bookings are essential and can be done online at www.sharkencounters.com.au. You can also find them on social media.