Use the Force, SkyWalker
Auckland, New Zealand
Maybe there’s something in the water down in New Zealand, but Kiwis seem to have a perverse attraction to scary, adrenaline-rush-inducing sports and events. Among these is the SkyWalk, the latest “terrortraction” from the land that brought jumping off a bridge with a skinny elastic band to the rest of the world.
Auckland’s iconic SkyTower, the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere at 328m (1,076 ft.) tall, is the home of this affair. Guests are taken out to an open-air platform where they’re strapped into a safety harness that’s attached to an overhead rail by two safety tethers. They are then invited to walk over to the edge of the thin metal grate that holds them up. Through the openings in the grate are views of the pedestrians below who are blissfully ignorant of the petrified human suspended 192m (630 ft.) overhead. Guests can walk over to the edge of the grate, if they dare, and lean over the edge for an unobstructed view. Most decline the offer.
There are other skywalks around, notably in Macau and Sydney, but those have handrails and other boring safety features. Guests are advised to wear comfortable clothing and shoes, diapers are optional. No cameras or other loose items are allowed on the platform. Reservations are suggested, and guests should allow themselves 75 minutes to enjoy the sound of their heart jackhammering.
The views from the SkyTower are breathtaking. Visitors can see the bridges and boats of Waitemata Harbor, Rangitoto Island, the skyscrapers of downtown Auckland, and depending on the weather, Mount Eden and the lush green slopes of the Waitakere Ranges in the distance.
Want more? No problem. There’s also a gangplank made of glass—thin, transparent glass—that guests can walk out to for a real freak-out. What’s that? More, you say? Fine. After your SkyWalk, if you have any adrenaline left, go upstairs and try the SkyJump, a type of bungee jump that drops you at 81kmph (50 mph) over the edge of the SkyTower.