We visited Auckland twice during our New Zealand travels last year and spent some time under the famous Skytower watching daring people jump from the top (a controlled fall, of course). In today's guest post, our friend Andrew from Grounded Traveler takes us along on a trip to the top of this iconic building for some beautiful sunset views.
I called it "the spike." The Auckland Skytower sticks up from the city and allows views of the whole area. You can see it from every part of town and it ends up on most of the postcards. We had to go up it. Ali and I were in New Zealand for two weeks at Christmas time and back in Auckland with only a few days left. New Zealand is far enough away from Germany to make coming back not as easy a thing. We planned our time to finish dinner and get up top a bit before sundown to watch the sunset from above.
Top of the Bottom
The Skytower is the tallest structure in the southern hemisphere. It is structurally pretty impressive. The little video that is running on loop at the first observation level had a cool section about getting the cranes down. Apparently the crane that put the top on was supported on the structure itself. So they had to have a second crane that allowed the two to leapfrog each other down. One crane letting the other down a bit back and forth. Of course given New Zealand's propensity for earthquakes, they had to take that into account as well.
The entrance is on Victoria street. Go into the building, not the tower itself. You go down and through a massive souvenir shop adorned with life sized mockups of creatures in movies filmed in New Zealand like Avatar and, of course, Lord of the Rings. It was kind of frightening to see a large orc in battle arggh face. Some people were even taking their pictures with them. We had a sunset to see, so just walked right through.
The great glass elevator takes you to the first observation deck. I am not necessarily frightened of heights, but do definitely feel vertigo. I made sure not to watch either out the glass door or down the glass floor on the ride. Though I did sneak a few peeks. From the first observation deck you can walk the entire circle and get a second elevator up to a higher deck or walk downstairs to the bar level.
Hey I can't see our house from up here...
The whole point of going up is the view. And the views are indeed spectacular. The entire city and harbor is laid out below you. The islands like Rangitoto stick up out of the horizon as well. The first observation deck even has glass panel floors in places so you can look straight down. I love the creative roof painting on the Mexican place.
A few extra dollars lets you take the second elevator up to the higher observation deck. While I didn't think the views themselves were that much different, the benefit here were pipes you could look through that highlighted different spots around town. Next to each pipe was a sign with information about what that pipe was pointing at. I picked one that pointed to the fountain at the University that we walked by just that morning and loved the kaleidoscope style picture that it produced.
I even caught the creepy Santa from above. The views are spectacular, but the glass is thick and smudgy in places. The day we went there were certainly plenty of people around, but it wasn't so crowded you couldn't move.
Simply beautiful. When we first got up top we could see a storm coming in. We saw rain from high up in Queenstown. The worry that the storm would get to us before the sun set was unfounded.
We did NOT..
- hook ourselves to a rope line and jump from the tallest structure in Auckland.
- let ourselves be led to walk around outside.
- strap ourselves in a reverse bungy jump nearby on the ground.
Yes, these are all options. I am not the adventurous type. Just going up was enough for me.
We decided after the city was darkening to have a drink. We figured it would be fairly expensive as a part of a tourist attraction, but you don't get a chance to drink on top of a spike very often. Oddly the drinks were no more expensive than the bars we had been going to. So we had two and watched the city lights come on. The tips jar was full of foreign money. I saw US dollars among others. I asked and the girl told me that Auckland gets a number of big cruise ships. So I guess whatever is in their pocket gets left as a tip.
We enjoyed ourselves and it was totally worth it to go up for the sunset.
Bio: Andrew is a American that now lives in Freiburg, Germany. He writes about the expat experience of putting down roots in Germany and travels around the world at his blog Grounded Traveler. He is also active on Twitter and has Facebook fanpage. His wife is Ali of Ali's Adventures.