The View from Above

IMG_0795Gazing up 328 metres, we watch as the newest Sky Jumper prepares to hurl themselves towards the ground below. Hearing their screams of terror and delight as they jump off the  edge of the sky tower, flying at a rate of 85 km per hour!

This is how we begin our excursion to Auckland’s Sky Tower, the tallest man made structure in New Zealand and sitting in the heart of Auckland‘s downtown. We watched in awe and wonder as each new jumper went, with a mixture of excitement and fear as we each contemplated whether we would do such a feat ourselves.

Of course this is one of the optional adventures at Auckland’s Sky Tower, as a visit to the tower itself and riding the elevator up to the top can be just as exciting and provide breath taking views up to 80 km in any direction.

IMG_0750I usually skip these tourist towers in most cities I visit, as it seems to me that one is just the same as the other. And being in a few before I would have considered giving it a miss. I have also found that a lot of the original views are blocked due to newer taller buildings that have been built so you can’t really see anything and what you can see is not always easy identify what you are looking at.

I found the one in Auckland to be quite different in many respects. We decided to go on the recommendation of my friend Regan, who we were visiting in Auckland. He talked it up quite a bit and said the views were fantastic, that we would see a lot of the city. He also thought it would be great for the kids.


Going up the elevator

And he was right, as we entered the building (after experiencing the adrenaline rush by proxy with the jumpers outside), we were all excited. We purchased our tickets, which were quite reasonable, as they have a family rate for $61 and children under 6 are free!, and entered the elevator to take us up to the first level. Our excitement grew as we noticed a glass floor in the elevator and could watch the ground fall away as we went up. I thought this was really cool, and a great way to give you perspective on how far up you are going.

There are 3 levels at the top, the main observation deck (at 186 metres), the lounge and cafe (at 182 metres) and the sky deck (at 220 metres). Starting on the main observation deck, there are 2 levels there. As the observation deck goes in a complete circle, 360 degree views, you can choose to walk the inside perimeter on the carpet or you can step down to the path along the viewing windows, and walk along glass floors.

IMG_3576I always find the glass floors to be a neat experience and what it does to your head. It is weird for your body to be be looking down at the ground from that high up and thinking you should be falling, when your body isn’t. It was neat to watch how each of the kids approached it, Matthew walking across with no hesitation, Luke cautiously walking around the edge of the glass on the metal perimeter and Chloe jumping right on it.

And the views were fantastic! We were able to pick out landmarks such as Rangitoto Island, Auckland Domain, St. Mary’s Church and Auckland War Memorial Museum, to name a few. Auckland is a beautiful city and quite unique as it is basically built upon a number of volcanic cones. (I thought Regan said 13, but when I looked it up it is actually 48! Wow). Having Regan there was an added bonus, as a local, he could point out points of interest as well as answer any questions that we had, whether it be what is that to why is it there. Plus the kids loved him, as he pulled them along on the bean bag chairs around the observation deck.

IMG_0762Of course we did some classic photos of being pushed against the glass or pretending that we were being pushed or falling. With the big glass windows all around the deck these were fun and easy to do. You could also make yourself a souvenir penny in the machine on the deck, with an imprint of a New Zealand icon of your choice, whether it be the Sky Tower itself or the infamous Kiwi bird to name a few.

After thoroughly exploring the main level we hopped onto the elevator to take us up just a little higher to the Sky Deck. This is the highest public observation deck with views through virtually seamless glass. Not only did we have amazing views we could look down below and watch the Sky Jumpers from above taking their jump. We even had the opportunity to watch a couple braving the Sky Walk, where they walk around the 1.2 metre perimeter of the tower (full body harness and safety lines of course).


Sky Walk

Feeling satisfied, we descended to the ground below, again watching our descent through the glass floor in the elevator. (Have I told you how cool I think that is?) And of course no tourist attraction is complete without at least a look through the gift shop, which they always have conveniently set up so that you have to go through it to get out. Isn’t that nice of them? 🙂

We also took a look at our souvenir photo which they shot before we went up the Sky Tower, though we decided not to take the photo, we did make a few other souvenir purchases. We were pleased with our choice to visit here and I would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting Auckland. As we were really there only one day, it gave us a good idea of what was in Auckland and some of the sites that I had hoped to see but couldn’t because of time. I felt satisfied being at least able to see it from a distance.


Rangitoto Island

We spent a better part of the morning there and had a really good time. It is one of the sites from our trip that Luke and Chloe ask again and again if we can go back to see. We even had the pleasure later that day seeing the tower lit up with its colorful lights, as we walked back to our hotel. The lights were beautiful and felt like a very nice way to end our day in Auckland.IMG_0791

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