Auckland - New Zealand
The Sky Tower has been an iconic landmark of the Auckland City skyline since 1996 and at 328 metres (over 1076 feet), it is the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand.
There are two observation platforms up the tower that offer amazing views of Auckland (you are supposed to be able to see up to 80km on a fine day).
The main observation level is on level 51 at 186 metres (610 feet). On this level there are small sections of the floor that are made of thick glass that you can stand on as you look straight down at the people and streets below. I'm not afraid of heights though it is still a little nerve-wracking when you first go to stand on it. "Supposedly" the glass is as strong as concrete. :)
The second observation level is the Sky Deck on level 60 at 220 metres (722 feet). It is smaller than the main observation level though is without the metal frames between the window panes. It feels quieter and more personal than the main level. In order to reach the Sky Deck, you must take a separate elevator that only goes between the two observation levels.
Dining up the Sky Tower
Sky Tower has the city's only 360-degree revolving restaurant called Orbit which is on level 52. It does a full rotation every hour so you get to enjoy the views of the entire city during your meal. There is another restaurant on level 53 called The Sugar Club. Its elegant decor is based on 1930s Italian Art Deco.
Remember to make a reservation well in advance as the restaurants are popular and always full. This can be done online on their website.
Something more adventurous
Looking for a little adventure? On level 53 you can do a SkyWalk round the pergola at 194 metres (636) above street level. For even more of an adrenaline rush, you can do the SkyJump from the same level (viewers on the main observation level sometimes freak out when they see someone "falling" past their window). You are in a full body harness with overhead safety lines but I bet you will still feel that tickly sensation in your stomach. For tickets and entrance to these attractions, you need to visit the information centre to the right just after you come off the escalators at the entrance.
(View of the Auckland Harbour Bridge and the Marina, as seen from the Sky Tower)
Safety - Earthquakes and Strong Winds
Earthquakes: In the extremely unlikely event of a magnitude 8.0 earthquake occurring within 20km (12.4 miles) of the Sky Tower, studies say that the structure should remain standing ... yes, should, though nobody really knows. :) Just for peace of mind, Auckland is located in one of the lowest earthquake activity parts of New Zealand. The strongest known quake felt in Auckland (it happened in another part of the country) was a magnitude 6.0 one back in 1891. The only known "active" fault in Auckland has not had movement in the last 10,000 years.
Strong winds: The Sky Tower has been designed to withstand winds up to 200kph (124 mph) and even then should only cause a swaying at the top of the concrete shaft of around one metre. In November 2006, the tower was momentarily closed due to 150kph winds gusts in the city, not because of safety but more for the comfort of those on the viewing platforms.
So basically, you don't have to worry about the Sky Tower falling any time soon due to natural events.
More facts about the Sky Tower
There are 1267 steps leading from the base of the Sky Tower to the Sky Deck. They are only opened to the public for special events (such as the Sky Tower Vertical Challenge, a race up the stairs in the shortest time possible with the record being just over 5 minutes).
The lighting of the outside of the Sky Tower at night has different colours depending on what is being celebrated (e.g. Green for St. Patrick's Day, Red and Green for Christmas, Pink for Mother's Day and Breast Cancer Awareness month etc.)
The Sky Tower weighs around 21 million kilograms (that is about 6000 adult elephants).
A 35cm diameter dynosphere sits at the top of Sky Tower's 90 meter steel mast to attract lightning, directing the lightning down the cable and into the foundations fo the tower where energy is dispersed into the earth. In July 1999, lightning struck the Sky Tower 16 times in 30 minutes.
Opening Hours and Entrance
The Sky Tower is open 365 days a year (except with extreme weather conditions).
May to October: 9am - 10pm (last tickets sold 30 minutes before close)
November to April: 8.30am - 10.30pm with Fridays and Saturdays open until 11pm. (last tickets sold 30 minutes before close).
If you are visiting with kids, you will find the Family Ticket cheaper than paying individually (for current prices visit their website).
The entrance to the tower itself is down some escalators to the right just inside of the main entrance of Sky City. The first set of elevators you will see to the right after coming down the escalators are for those who have made a reservation in one of the restaurants near the top. If you are just visiting the observation decks, you will need to walk through the gift shop before getting to the section where tickets are sold.
On the observation level there are (paid) binoculars for a closer view of parts of the city. Notice how on this level there is seating in parts just to relax and enjoy the view.
Contact details of Sky Tower
Address: Corner of Victoria Street and Federal Street, Downtown Auckland.
Phone: 0800 SKYCITY (759 2489)
Website: Sky Tower
Sky Tower has free wi-fi so you will be able to easily share your photos of the amazing views.
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