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My Kiwi-travel-buddy Kay and I arrived in Auckland late last night after our drive across the north island from Wellington. My day starts earlier than Kay’s, I have to get up to return the rental car before 8:30am about a mile from the hotel.
When I get back to the Hilton, I stop at the concierge desk to inquire about our time to do the Auckland Harbour Bridge Climb. On the way back from dinner last night, we asked at the desk about doing the Bridge Climb. But it was too late for the concierge to call and get us a reservation so we had to wait until this morning.
As you may remember, in Sydney I really wanted to do the Harbour Bridge Climb. But it was sold out every day I was there thanks to the Australia Day holiday.
But while reading about Auckland, Kay and I discover that Auckland offers a similar experience on their Harbour Bridge. We are both excited to do it!
Luckily, the concierge is able to get us a reservation for 11:30am today. So I head back up to the room to wake Kay up and tell her we have an appointment with a bridge.
The company that does the bridge climb also offers bungy jumping off the Harbour Bridge, but we decide to skip that.
I still don’t understand why anyone would jump off of a perfectly good bridge. Fortunately, Kay and I are both on the same page regarding bungy jumping – it’s definitely not for us.
Bridge Climb Auckland Style
When we get to the Bridge Climb Auckland office at the base of the bridge, we sign a waiver and are swiftly suited up with jumpsuits and a climbing belt.
You can’t take anything up on the bridge with you because of the danger that it could fall into the traffic below. This includes cameras, hats, etc.
Our guide explains that we will be hooked by our belts onto a wire running the span of the bridge. Then, we go through a few safety procedures and a little history and we’re off.
Unlike the Sydney climb, you start out in Auckland on a relatively flat portion of the bridge. This gives you a little time to get used to the whole idea of being on a bridge while NOT in a car. It’s a gorgeous sunny day but it’s extremely windy up there on the bridge.
During the climb, you have to hold onto the belt attaching you to the guide wire with your right hand so it doesn’t catch on anything. This leaves only your left hand to hold onto railings. Most places this isn’t a big deal and I still feel fairly secure within the railings on the catwalks.
But, I begin to change my mind as we climb up through the rafters of the bridge and out onto the very top looking WAY down onto traffic and the water. At this point, holding onto railings with both hands certainly would have been the preferred method.
Kay and I are both a little nervous when we get all the way to the top and out in the open. When our guide says we can stay up there for a little while and enjoy the view I think, “Okay, lovely view over here, stunning view over there – done. Can we go down now?“
But we stay up there for a bit and our guide takes pictures for us. Which, of course, they are then happy to sell to us later (just like zorbing yesterday).
The whole climb takes about an hour and a half and it’s good, clean, exhilarating fun.
I’d still like to do the Sydney climb someday since it’s a longer and higher climb. But Auckland’s version is definitely a good second.
The Sky Tower
With our bridge climb complete, our next stop is Auckland’s famed Sky Tower.
Standing 4 meters higher than the Eiffel Tower, the Sky Tower is the tallest tower in the southern hemisphere. It’s also the most prominent feature in Auckland’s skyline.
And since this is New Zealand, you obviously have the option of visiting it or jumping off of it.
I’ll let you guess which one we chose.
Now, if you’re starting to think there aren’t any structures in New Zealand they aren’t willing to throw you off of, you’re beginning to get the picture. They take their adventure sports seriously in this country.
No surprisingly, we decide against the Sky Jump from the tower. Instead, we buy tickets for the observation deck and board the more sane method of transportation between the ground and the top deck – the elevator.
The 360 degree views of the city are excellent so we stick around for some lunch at the café and stay a while.
After we leave the Sky Tower, we spend the rest of the afternoon wandering around the city and shopping a little. Then we find another great restaurant for dinner and follow that up with drinks at the hotel’s lounge before calling it a night.
This morning, I have a 7am flight to Fiji. Kay, however, has plans to rent a car and drive some more of the area north of Auckland before heading back to Wellington for her flight home in two days.
It’s been a lot of fun traveling with Kay for the 4 days through New Zealand. Especially since my round-the-world trips are always solo adventures.
I’m sad to leave lovely New Zealand. But I’m so excited for my first South Pacific experience…next stop, Fiji!