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NZ AquaBots is the first underwater robotics programme for school-aged children in New Zealand.

NZAquaBots is an innovative underwater robotics program where youth teams build an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle then compete in New Zealand themed challenges. Students learn engineering concepts and hone skills in problem solving, teamwork, scientific communication, and technical applications. Building an aquabot teaches basic skills in design and encourages students to explore naval architecture and marine and ocean engineering principles. It also teaches basic science, electrical concepts, tool safety and technical procedures. Each year the theme of the programme is changed to reflect what is going on in Aotearoa and/or the world, this year we chose to work with Te Tai Tokerau Debris Monitoring Project and create the theme ’Ocean Pollution’ but previous years have been: Pasifika Navigation (2019) and Historical Maori Fishing Practices (2018).

The kit is re-usable, as advanced students need to modify the structure of the AquaBot from year to year in order to compete. Winning teams are invited to compete in the International Sea Perch competition in the USA.

This representative picture shows the typical contents of an NZ Aquabots kit. To purchase one or get replacement parts please visit our shop. Many of the parts are sourced locally and so may differ slightly from those shown here. You will also need to purchase a battery for the kit locally.

Regional Contacts and Competition dates 2023


Please see the Calendar for more information

Competition update March 2023
For Auckland and Northland point of contact: Gareth Bodle



NZ Aquabots is based on Seaperch


See the 2020 Mission animation

Watch video of Task 2 – Disposal Vault

Sponsored by:

Who takes part?

Teams are formed from a maximum of 6 students in Years 5 – 13. Students can be across varying year levels and schools if necessary. The NZAquaBots programme inspires students and helps discover the next generation of Kiwi scientists and engineers, while introducing potential maritime and robotics careers.

How do you compete?

Each year two aspects of the competition remain the same. There is an obstacle course that must be traversed and an oral presentation must be made. The other pool events change from year to year. These have included collecting invasive species, playing Connect 4, and collecting kai moana (seafood). New in 2018 is the ‘Hack-a-Kit’ competition, where students are permitted to re-design the kit under constraints, including keeping the cost to $20. These students are not permitted to continue to the International Sea Perch competition.