The City of Sails.
A place that I have been many times, but never really as a tourist. My time there has always been short, in transit to an overseas country or a quick visit for a concert . My most recent trip was the same – an overnight stop on my way to an island paradise, also known as Waiheke Island.
Although I only had an evening there, I made sure I ticked off the most touristy thing I could do – The Sky Tower. The needle point structure stands 328 meters tall and offers uninterrupted views across the city and out to the Hauraki Gulf.
The Sky Tower was certainly a trip worth making, but also a challenge. You see, I don’t like heights. I am fine with natural heights, but man made heights, like sky towers, that’s another story. My knees buckle, my heart starts racing and my body seizes up, refusing to move. But I’m all about giving things a go, so up I went. (Although I can assure you that swimming with sharks will not help you overcome your fear of them.)
I jumped in the elevator to take me to the top. The doors to the elevator were glass but I didn’t really notice as the lift shaft was dark and enclosed. But on my way up, without warning, I went from being in the safe little cocoon of the elevator to being able to see straight out (and down) across the city when I passed the section of the lift shaft that was also glass. The shock of it was responsible for the little scream I let out!
Then the doors to the elevator opened, I had made it to the observation deck. Now the hard part, leaving the elevator and walking out towards the edge. I forced myself to exit and headed straight to the railings. The place is completely enclosed and there is nowhere for you to actually fall, but still, I had to hold onto the railings. I am pleased they were there, completely unnecessary but very reassuring. Slowly I was able to make my way around the observation deck and eventually, even let go of the railing to take some photos.
For those who are brave, there are sections of floor you can walk across that are just glass, giving you a perfect view of the city 220 meters below. I was not one of these people. Despite signs assuring me the glass was very think and just as safe and the rest of the floor, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t force my feet to stand on it.
With uninterrupted views, it was the perfect place to watch the sun setting behind the Waitakere Ranges. I watched the golden glow slowly slip behind the ranges, taking us from dusk to night.
It’s not often I find the time to watch a sunset. I need to do it more often.
From the observation deck I was able to spot my next stop, the Noodle Night Market. A pop up food festival that runs in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Celebrating the tastes of Asia, there was a range of delicious food, lanterns and music to be enjoyed under the stars.
With my tofu pancake in hand, I sat down on the grass to enjoy my picnic dinner. Fresh and spicy (like, way spicier than I had expected) it was a memorable dish that left a zing in my mouth long after I had finished my meal.
All the food was served in packaging that was either compostable or recyclable. It was refreshing to go to an event where there wasn’t a sea of plastic everywhere. We need more events like these.
I’m not really a city person, I would choose nature over a city centre any day, but my evening in Auckland made me realise there is much more for me to discover here. It’s a place that I’m sure will be calling me again, and next time I answer, I will be sure to stay for longer.
The Sky Tower is open 365 days a year (weather permitting) and is located on the corner or Victoria and Federal Streets. Tickets can be purchased in advance online and will cost you $32NZD (adult ticket price) For an extra $4NZD you can upgrade to a Sun & Stars ticket which allows you a second entry within 24 hours so you can view the city by day and night. With 2 restaurants and a café, you can even enjoy the views with a glass of wine or a meal.
The Noodle Night Markets are pop up food festivals operating in New Zealand’s 3 major cities; Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Visit their website for more information.