In general terms the main building has three occupied floors constructed over the holding ponds of the original fish hatchery. Access to the main entrance of the Laboratory is via a bridge beside the NZ Marine Studies Centre and into the third (top) floor of the Laboratory. From here there is lift access and stairs to all floors and to sea-level facilities including the Aquarium. Public access to the Aquarium is via the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre and a separate pedestrian ramp.
Most wet tasks, including experimentation with live organisms, take place at ground level or on the first floor of the main building. This first floor also houses controlled temperature rooms, an animal physiology laboratory and a study area for research students. On this first-floor level in the adjacent older building are located a teaching laboratory, a reference collection and the common room.
Staff offices and administrative services are mostly located on the second floor, with offices for senior research students and visitors. A photographic darkroom, analytical laboratory and the library are also located on this floor.
At third floor level there are staff and visitor laboratories, a biochemistry laboratory (PC1 lab), a histology laboratory and a microscope room.
Other buildings include a field gear store, mechanical workshop, Resident Technician's cottage, student accommodation, an aquaculture centre and the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre.
The Laboratory has its own a wharf and three boats of various types and sizes are available for fieldwork.
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