Sky Tower SkyWalk
Everyone in Auckland knows the Sky Tower, at 328m the highest point on the city’s skyline from any direction. Since its completion in 1997, taking the lift to the glassed-in observation deck has been a must for all residents and visitors — but there is a much more exciting way to experience that view, with no barriers of any kind in the way.
In an operation run by AJ Hackett, the company famous for pioneering commercial bungy jumping, small groups are kitted out in orange boilersuits and harnesses, hitched up to an overhead cable, and led out to walk around the 120m circumference ring that makes up the Tower’s widest point, at a height of 192 dizzying meters.
You meet your guides, who are very friendly, encouraging, and professional, and who help you get ready for the walk. After taking the lift up the tower, you have to empty everything out of your pockets before getting into your boilersuit and having your harness fitted and checked several times. You leave all your personal gear, including phones and cameras, in lockers. You’re briefed on what to expect, and then go out onto the deck, which is a see-through, but sturdy, metal grid. Your harness is attached by carabiners to two cables, one in front, one behind your back, which are connected to runners on a rail that loops overhead around the tower.
Everything is checked multiple times by the guides — safety obviously has top priority. You then go out to walk out around the meter-wide platform, which has no handrails, looking at the views, having the various landmarks pointed out, as well as posing for photos, and being encouraged to be adventurous. This begins with letting go of the front cable that most people initially grip with white knuckles. Then you work your way through a number of options that include closing your eyes, walking backward, sitting down to dangle your feet over the void, and even standing right on the edge, facing both forwards and backward, for maximum thrills.
What’s it like?
Initial nervousness is understandable, but the guides are very calm and reassuring, so that everyone feels able, with their encouragement, to get a buzz of adrenaline by doing things they’ll delight in boasting about afterward — like leaning out from the very edge of the platform, at an angle of 45 degrees, or standing on one leg. But it’s not all about the personal challenge: you’ll never get a better look at Auckland city, suburbs, and surroundings than from here. Apart from being impressed by the long views in every direction, one of the most surprising things is how flat this hilly city looks from above. It’s great fun to look down on the toy-sized cars below, and even tinier people; and also to get a literal overview of the city, and see how it all fits together, from the Waitakere Ranges to Rangitoto, from Long Bay to the Domain and beyond, cut through by the motorways and surrounded by sea and bush.
You might find that your experience coincides with that of someone who is even more adventurous. The SkyJump, which is run from the same level, is not a classic Bungy jump, more a controlled fall where jumpers are harnessed to a cable which then drops them feet-first down to street level 53 floors below. The first few seconds feel like a thrilling free-fall before the cable takes charge and lowers them at 85km/h. You will walk past the platform where they stand, screwing up their courage, before launching themselves at the countdown — or perhaps not, the first, or even second, time.
The normal price is $150, but Skywalk is currently advertising an online special of $99 per adult (children — minimum age 10 — and student prices are available on request). You can buy photos and videos of your experience as extras. You must weigh between 30kg and 127kg. There are also some health considerations to check online. Allow 90 minutes for the whole experience.