Up the Tower

 This is something Lou had been putting off until I got to New Zealand. And then we promptly forgot about it until we realised I was leaving again in a few days. To cover some ground I’m sure I’ve gone over before:

The Sky Tower is the tallest tower in the southern hemisphere and (I think) the 10th tallest man-made structure worldwide. It opened at the tail end of 1997 and took around half a million meat pies to build (I’m not making that up – it’s on a plaque in the main observation level). As well as go up it in a lift (or by stairs during special events – the record being 5 mins 7 secs in a 2002 challenge), visitors can pay a bit extra to clamber outside to a 1000-foot high crow’s nest, or choose to jump off the side in a controlled base jump.

At it’s peak, the structure is 328m tall. The aforementioned Vertigo Climb takes you to 270m, the Sky Deck viewing platform is 220m, Observatory restaurant at 194m and Skyjump platform the mad people at an insane 192m – the highest organised jump in New Zealand.

Courtesy of my YHA card, we got backpacker rates which were a fair bit cheaper than even the best “money off” voucher we could find in any of the tourist bumph. $18 each got us tickets including the extra little bit to the Sky Deck for a slightly better view.

 Stepping into the lift, we wooshed upwards at 18km/h watching the floor of the lift shaft dwindle all too rapidly into the distance through the glass floor. The day couldn’t have been better weatherwise. Visibility is reckoned at around 51 miles (82km) on a clear day and I don’t think we were far off that.

The sun shone down over the Auckland Bridge and the harbour, glistening off the water. Every building beneath us – which was every damn one in Auckland, obviously, as the Tower’s twice the height of the next tallest – was visible clearly. In the distance were volcanos (50 are apparently visible) and almost every landmark in Auckland. Loonies in blue and yellow jumpsuits were suspended for our viewing pleasure just outside the window as they threw away $150 on a 16-second controlled base jump. I’d hate to do their laundry.

Absolutely astounding.

 In various places around the deck, the floor has been replaced by 38mm thick glass. This is advertised as being as strong as the concrete that surrounds it. This makes it no less unnerving when you stand on it and look down to see absolutely nothing between your trembling feet and a building roof or swimming pool some 800-or-so feet below.

As well as taking a huge number of photos or the surrounds, and spotting Lou’s new flat, we had a quick snack in the lounge. There are three “eateries” in the tower, all varying in price and exclusivity. We went for the cheap one, obviously. Cup of tea, ham & cheese toastie and an almond Snickers bar I’d forgotten about and left in my trouser pocket when I fell asleep the previous night. Mmm.. squishy.

Time flew. Kids ran around utterly oblivious to the fact they were higher than Jimi Hendrix at a “bring your own” party. Pirates with awful accents wandered around telling stories (a promo for the upcoming Disney film). The sun started to dip slowly. I really don’t know how long we spent up there – easily 2 hours.

 Afterwards, we enjoyed the feel of proper more-than-38mm-thick concrete beneath our feet as we did a little shopping for Lou’s new flat and headed back to the hostel for dinner. There’s a great Chinese a couple of doors along and I reheated what I had left of the previous night’s chicken fried rice. Still 8 hours plus to the England kickoff, so we decided to do the sensible thing. Go to a club and get wasted.

This task duly accomplished, we staggered (very literally in Lou’s case) back to the hostel at around 2:30 to get changed then ran/limped to a nearby bar we’d spotted showing the match. Only it was full.

By the time we made it to the next nearest place, we’d missed 10 minutes but fortunately not too much action.

We all know what happened next. I’ll save my ranting for elsewhere.

Bed at 6am, asleep sometime after 6:30. I was too wound up to just drift off and sat reading for ages! We have some plans for the rest of the week, the highlight probably being a trip to the zoo on Wednesday or Thursday before I jet off back to Hanoi.

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