A big view of Auckland

Sunday 16 January 2022 – Auckland.

Looking like a junkie’s dirty syringe waiting to inject gambling into the veins of Aucklanders, the Sky Tower thrusts into the sky above the city, the early morning dream of a well funded architect compensating for a small penis.

Visible from everywhere in the city, at 328 metres, the Sky Tower is the tallest building in New Zealand, the southern hemisphere (surprisingly yet to be unclaimed as Australian) and the 28th tallest structure in the world. It is an important communications tower and popular tourist attraction but its main purpose is to act as a giant phallic advertisement for the casino it sits above. Before the tower there were no casinos or seemingly a need for a casino in Auckland.

Photo taken in October.

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It was constructed between 1994 and 1997 and was, at the time, deeply unpopular with the people of Auckland; though I suspect most are, at best, ambivalent about it now. Approval was railroaded through with all the false commitments of economic benefit you would expect from an international gambling empire; the promised ‘world-class’ conference centre is being built now (delayed due to Covid). I hated it when it was first built and have a love/hate relationship with it now I’m used to it dominating the skyline. It’s hideously ugly, but also beautiful in a brutalist, functional fashion. For all my dismissiveness, it does have a great view over Auckland, and much as I never want to contribute to the casino’s vast profits I would still recommend going up the tower to look at one of the world’s prettier cities when viewed from on high.

The threatened cyclone had failed to materialise by mid-afternoon so, as the sky was relatively clear and Eleanor had a handy discount voucher, we took the opportunity to visit the towers viewing decks, one of the few items left on Eleanor’s Auckland to-do list. The tower is close enough that if it fell over the tip of the mast would likely hit the far side of the apartment block we live in, so it didn’t take long to walk there.

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There are five (I think) publicly accessible levels in the tower; level 51 is the first viewing deck, 50 is the café, 52 the revolving restaurant, 53 access to outside activities and 60, the top viewing deck.

The automatic lift, with a viewing window in the floor, took us directly to level 51. Eleanor didn’t step onto the glass and I can’t recall doing so either. It was weird watching the journey up the lift shaft, it felt very sci-fi.

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As you can imagine, the view from Auckland’s tallest building is wonderful, from this height on a clear day Auckland is a lovely looking city, the two harbours almost mirror-like in the sun. The central business district almost looks grown up. I took a few photos though the heavily tinted and solid looking glass.

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Just like the lift there are windows in the floor allowing a clear view down to the ground 200 or so metres below. I stood on the glass, though it was tentative and I didn’t stay for long. A nearby sign advised the glass was as strong as the concrete floor I was more than happy to walk on. Perceptions eh?

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We caught a second lift up to the floor 60 viewing deck, there were fewer people up here which was nice, not to say that level 51 was crowded min. Very restricted numbers allowed up the tower during Covid.

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Most people were wearing masks on 60, unlike the floor the below. I took a photo out towards our apartment block, the white building touching the bottom left corner of the park.

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This photo was taken in December out the bedroom window, as I said earlier, we are close and the tower is tall.

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After circling the deck a couple of times, with me pointing out places of interest, or places where we had visited we took the lift back down to 51, then walked down to level 50 for a glass of wine and a relax over the view in the café. There was only time for one before we were tossed out at 6:00 closing.

It was still early so we walked to the Park Royal Hotel near the Wynyard Quarter and had a final couple of glasses of wine for the weekend (I had one more Man O’ War syrah) and the best fish and chips we have had in the city. It was a great end to a great weekend.