The Auckland Sky Tower is arguably the most iconic feature of the city’s skyline. Completed in 1997, it’s the tallest building in New Zealand and therefore one of the best places on the North Island to get amazing 360-degree views. But there’s also a lot to do up there besides just admiring the view.
Heading up the Sky Tower is definitely one of my favorite things to do in Auckland, and it’s a must while you’re in the city. Once you get up there, you’ve also got the option to class things up at one of the swanky restaurants inside, or get adventurous and go bungy jumping off of the side!
I’ve written this guide to help you make the most of your visit to the Auckland Sky Tower and enjoy those insane views!
1. About the Auckland Sky Tower
The Auckland Sky Tower is 328 meters (1,076 feet) tall, making it the tallest building in not just the city, but the whole of New Zealand! In fact, it’s also the second-tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere.
The tower is located in Auckland’s CBD, on the corner of Victoria and Federal streets, so you really do get the perfect view of this beautiful city. It’s part of the SkyCity Auckland casino complex, but you don’t need to gamble to pay a visit – you just need an admission ticket! Levels 50-53 and 60 are open to the public for eating, drinking, and sightseeing – or tackling the famous SkyJump!
The Sky Tower is also illuminated in various different colors on special occasions. For example, it lights up in red and yellow to mark the Chinese New Year, green for St. Patrick’s Day, and pink for Mother’s Day, as well as the whole of October for breast cancer awareness month.
2. How much does the Auckland Sky Tower cost?
General admission to the Auckland Sky Tower costs $40 NZD for adults and $20 NZD for kids aged 6-14, while under 6s can go up for free (accompanied by an adult, of course).
While you can just walk up and pay the admission fee, there are some advantages to booking online ahead of time. We like using Viator for tours and experiences like this one because you can book now and pay later – that helps with trip budgeting!
Booking your Sky Tower ticket with Viator also lets you cancel up to 24 hours ahead of time. This is great if your plans change or the weather isn’t great. Plus, if you buy the ticket online here, it’s the same cost as the walk-up price of $40 NZD, so why not!
Once you have your admission, you’ll be able to access all of the floors that are open to the public. This means you can visit the main observation deck on level 51, any of the restaurants, and the Sky Deck on the 60th floor. You’ll need to shell out extra cash if you want to do the SkyWalk or SkyJump, but more on that later.
3. Do you need to purchase tickets in advance?
You don’t have to, but I do recommend it because it saves time. We booked our tickets beforehand and were able to breeze past all of the groups queuing up to buy tickets, which made things much easier.
The Sky Tower is a really popular attraction and the queues can get pretty long, so there’s no need to waste time in line when it’s not necessary.
4. When is the best time to visit the Auckland Sky Tower?
You’ll get amazing views at pretty much any time of the year in New Zealand on a clear day. I do recommend going early in the morning or in the late afternoon to avoid the crowds if you can – especially on weekends or during school holidays.
Watching the sunset from the Sky Tower is also one of those spectacular experiences in New Zealand, so head up just beforehand if you want to watch the city lighting up right in front of you.
The tower closes early on Mondays and Tuesdays (at 6 pm), so if you want to go at sunset then I suggest choosing another day of the week to visit.
5. Is the Auckland Sky Tower open all year round?
Yes! It’s open 365 days a year.
The only time the Auckland Sky Tower closes is when the weather is really bad. It is worth noting that the Sky Café closes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but everything else is open daily!
6. What are the Auckland Sky Tower hours?
The Sky Tower is open from 9:30 am until 6 pm on Mondays and Tuesdays, with the last entry at 5:30 pm (although you’ll probably want to spend more than just 30 minutes up there).
From Wednesday through to Sunday, it’s open from 9:30 am until 8 pm, with the last entry at 7:30 pm.
The hours stay the same all year round, so you don’t need to worry about checking for seasonal changes.
7. What are the best tours that visit the Auckland Sky Tower?
Sadly, many tours of Auckland skip the Sky Tower, but this sightseeing tour includes a visit! You’ll drive through the city to spot famous sights such as Auckland University, Queen Street, Dominion Parks and Gardens, and then travel on the beautiful Tamaki Drive along the waterfront past the beautiful beaches.
Then, you’ll head up the Sky Tower to enjoy panoramic views of the city before ending your day with a 90-minute cruise that takes you under the Harbour Bridge to see Rangitoto Island.
The tour lasts for approximately 6 hours and lets you see a lot of the city in just one day, so I think it’s perfect if you’re short on time. It’s also a reasonable price at $169 NZD because all of your experiences for the day are included.
This tour is actually designed for travelers visiting Auckland on a day trip as part of a cruise, so if that’s you (or you’re just here for a quick stop) then it’s a great way to ensure you get to visit the city’s tallest building!
Related Read: For more tours that start in Auckland and take you all over NZ, these are the best multi-day tours of New Zealand!
Why I Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! I almost always book tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
Check out the Viator website here!
8. Is there parking available at the Auckland Sky Tower?
Whether you’re renting a car in Auckland or have your own wheels, there are a few different parking options. Casual parking costs $16 NZD for an hour, and then $8 NZD for each hour after that. The maximum daily rate is $48 NZD, but you shouldn’t be there for that long!
Alternatively, you can get a Care Park top-up card and add money to it at a pay station. You do need to top up a minimum of $60 NZD at a time, but you can also use it at the Burton Street, Davis Crescent, and Parnell Quarter car parks around the city, so it could be worth it depending on your itinerary.
If you use your top-up card at the SkyCity parking, it will only cost you $15 NZD for the whole day – and since it’s right in the CBD, you can even leave your car here after your visit and do some more sightseeing nearby.
9. What are the best things to do at the Auckland Sky Tower?
Orbit 360° Dining
Orbit 360° is a revolving restaurant on level 52 of the Sky Tower – how cool is that?
It serves up gourmet kiwi cuisine and the menu changes according to the season, but you might be able to expect Akaroa salmon or Duncan Pāmu venison, and everything is locally sourced. So not only do you get insane views, but you also get to sample some of the best food Auckland has to offer!
I think this place would be perfect for a romantic date or a big celebration! (In fact, you can even contact the restaurant and ask them to bake a cake for you!).
Lunch is served from 11 am – 2 pm each day, and you can do a 2-course set menu for $69 NZD, 3 courses for $89 NZD, or dine a la carte if you prefer. Dinner, meanwhile, is from 5 – 9 pm and it’s $95 NZD for the 3-course set menu on Monday to Thursday, or $105 NZD from Friday to Sunday.
Bookings are essential and, unsurprisingly, this place does book up pretty far in advance so make a reservation as early as you can! The minimum dining time is 2 hours, and the restaurant revolves once per hour, so you’ll get to see the entire city at least twice while you dine.
The Sky Walk takes you around the edge of the tower’s pergola, 192 meters (630 feet) above ground, with no handrails to hold onto (but don’t worry, you will be safely harnessed in!). It’s definitely an adrenaline-pumping experience, and you’ll participate in some gravity-defying challenges – like dangling over the edge – as you go round.
The whole experience takes around 90 minutes and there’s a minimum age of 10. Participants need to be at least 30 kilograms (66 lbs) and shouldn’t weigh more than 127 kilograms (280 lbs). When the winds are high, the minimum weight limit is sometimes increased to 45 kilograms (99 lbs) and if they get to over 60 kph (37 mph) then the activity will be delayed or rescheduled. You’ll also be breathalyzed before heading out, so don’t think about sneaking in a drink beforehand! Save that for afterwards.
It costs $160 NZD for adults, $130 NZD for 10-15-year-olds, and $140 NZD for students at a New Zealand university. You can also purchase either professional photos and videos of your experience for an extra $45 NZD, or $65 NZD for both.
This is a seriously insane experience – I mean, how often do you get to walk around the edge of an iconic building like this? – so if you’re feeling brave and adventurous, then I definitely recommend doing this!
If you’re a serious adrenaline junkie, you can even bungy jump off of the Sky Tower with the Sky Jump! You’ll plunge from 192 meters (630 feet) down to the SkyCity Plaza below. I mean, it doesn’t get more adventurous than jumping off the edge of New Zealand’s tallest building, does it?
This is an insane and totally unique experience, and anyone over the age of 10 can do it – although there’s a minimum weight limit of 30 kg (66 lbs) and a maximum limit of 122 kg (269 lbs). It costs $235 NZD per person and you’ll get 11 seconds of free fall, reaching speeds of up to 85 kph (53 mph). For kids aged 10-15, it’s $185 NZD, or it costs $205 NZD for local students.
Related Read: If you’re craving more high-flying adventures, check out everything you should know before skydiving in New Zealand, and then take the jump!
Wētā Workshop Unleashed
The Wētā Workshop Unleashed is an amazing experience for film fans. The main workshop takes place in Wellington, but you can also enjoy it right here in Auckland with this 90-minute tour right opposite the Sky Tower.
To give you some context, Wētā Workshop is an Oscar-winning special effects company that’s behind some seriously famous movies, including Avatar, Black Panther, the Avengers, and of course, Lord of the Rings! You’ll get to learn all about their creative process and even see some of the actual props from their movies, as well as enjoy lots of visual displays and hands-on exhibits. In fact, it’s so immersive that if you’re visiting with kids (or just scare easily), then you might even need to skip the horror section!
If you love horror, fantasy, or sci-fi films then this is an absolute must. Plus, at $50 NZD for adults and $25 NZD for kids aged 6-14, I think that it’s really good value for money!
The Sky Slide is located on the tower’s main observation deck, and it takes you zooming around the Auckland skyline on a 360º virtual reality tour. It’s a crazy experience that’s guaranteed to have you ooh-ing and aah-ing.
The slide costs $15 NZD and pretty much anyone over the age of 5 can enjoy it, although some health conditions may prevent you from going on. You’ll be fitted with a VR headset and although you won’t actually be moving, you’ll have to wear a seatbelt for safety because it feels so realistic that you might just jerk out of your seat otherwise!
Enjoy Fine Dining at the Sugar Club
The Sugar Club is one of the most famous and highly-rated restaurants in Auckland, and you’ll find it on the 53rd floor of the Sky Tower. It’s a seriously fancy fine-dining experience with a locally inspired menu, and you can either dine a la carte or enjoy the tasting menu for $159 NZD per person (although it’s an extra $75 NZD if you want to include drink pairings).
If you don’t want to splash out on the fine dining, you can also just head to the bar for drinks. A cocktail will set you back around $20-23 NZD, so it’s not cheap, but you’re definitely paying for the view! Happy hour runs from 5 – 7 pm and 9 – 11 pm daily, when you can score a cocktail for $18 NZD or a house spirit and mixer for $11 NZD.
This place is very in demand, so definitely book in advance – especially if you want to eat. But even to have a drink at the bar, you’ll need to reserve your spot a few days beforehand, or even further ahead if you want to visit at sunset.
Enjoy a coffee at 182 meters
The Sky Cafe takes coffee with a view to a new level – literally. Here, you can grab a cappuccino, an ice cream, or even a glass of bubbles and soak in the views from the 50th floor of the Auckland Sky Tower. And if you’re feeling fancy, there are even wine and cheese boards available!
The cafe is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and open from 10 am – 6 pm for the rest of the week. It’s definitely a nice place to relax with a view, and it’s perfect for treating yourself after you’ve tackled the Sky Walk! Plus, unlike the other restaurants, no bookings are required.
10. What facilities are at the Auckland Sky Tower?
There are toilets at the base of the tower, in case you need to go before you head up, and on the main observation deck. There are also two restaurants (Orbit 360° Dining and The Sugar Club), as well as a cafe where you can buy drinks or enjoy a cheese board if you’re feeling peckish.
There’s also a glass-bottomed elevator that will take you to the top of the building (get ready for your ears to pop), and it’s wheelchair-friendly.
At the entrance, you’ll also find a gift shop and an area for kids to play. It’s set up so you have to walk through it on your way out.
11. Can you visit the Sky Tower for free?
You used to be able to! However, I have been informed that that offer is no longer available. It’s such a shame as it was a fantastic offer.
Related Read: If you’re interested in adding some free activities to your New Zealand itinerary, take a ferry to the South Island and check out the top free things to do in Queenstown, Christchurch, and Wanaka!
12. Is the Auckland Sky Tower wheelchair-friendly?
Yes, the Sky Tower is 100% wheelchair accessible.
There aren’t really any steps to worry about, and there are wheelchair-friendly bathrooms both at the base of the tower and at the main observation deck. The cafes and restaurants are also wheelchair accessible and the glass-bottomed elevators are large enough to fit wheelchairs, too.
13. Is the Auckland Sky Tower suitable for children?
Yes, I actually think that a visit to the Sky Tower is a great thing to do with kids in Auckland! Plus tickets to the Sky Tower are only $20 NZD for kids 6-14 and free for all children under 5.
Younger children won’t be able to do the SkyWalk or the SkyJump (not that you’d probably want them to, anyway) but they’ll love the amazing views and the SkySlide! The only thing I will say is that since the elevator goes pretty fast and has a glass bottom, they might get scared on the way up, so keep that in mind if you’re bringing little ones.
14. Is the Auckland Sky Tower worth it?
The view is insane – you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better vantage point in the city. I think that the cost is totally worth the experience, and there are also some really unique activities for adrenaline lovers up top. But even if you want to skip those and just enjoy the view, I think it totally merits the admission fee.
I absolutely loved my time up there, and I can’t wait to go again!
Related Read: If you’re ready to venture outside the city, the drive from Auckland to Rotorua has some awesome stops!
Where to Stay in Auckland
Auckland is a huge city, so deciding where to stay in Auckland can be a challenge. Luckily, I’ve stayed in Auckland countless times (and even lived there for a few months) so I know the best areas to stay. Below are my favorite hotels/hostels in Auckland to suit all budgets and travel styles:
$$$ – The Grand by SkyCity
The Grand by SkyCity is an Auckland accommodation unlike any other. Treating you to a lavish stay right in the heart of the city, this five-star hotel is exactly where you want to be if you’re after luxurious rooms and city views.
$$ – Marsden Viaduct Hotel
One of the Auckland hotels with the best views, the Marsden Viaduct Hotel puts you right on the harbor without breaking your budget. This world-class accommodation is within walking distance to the Wynyard Quarter and the restaurant and bars in the Viaduct Harbour, so you’re pretty much in the center of it all.
$ – The Attic Backpackers
The Attic is one of my favorite budget-friendly accommodations in the heart of Auckland city. Although The Attic isn’t as high-end as the other hotels in the area, you can still call it your home-away-from-home, and it’s actually pretty cozy. You have some chill-out areas a few steps away from the room for chatting with friends and watching TV.
For more detailed info on the best areas to stay in Auckland and the best hotels, check out our blog!
Other Things to do While You’re in Auckland
As New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland is filled with amazing things to do and see! While you’re here, make sure not to miss out on some of the top attractions and activities.
- Take a harbor cruise – Nicknamed the City of Sails, there are SO many boats in Auckland, and the harbor is a must-see aboard one. I love this 1.5-hour harbor cruise that takes you past the Auckland Bridge and you even get to help the crew steer!
- Hike Mt Eden – One of the best hikes on the North Island is to the top of Mt Eden. This dormant volcano has amazing views of Auckland and the loop trail is only a 40-minute walk.
- See dolphins and whales – One of my favorite Auckland activities was joining this dolphin and whale watching tour to the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. You’re on a luxury catamaran looking for all the amazing marine animals around here. Plus if you don’t see any dolphins or whales, you can do the tour again for free.
- Bungy jump – For the adrenaline chasers, there’s no more memorable activity than bungy jumping from the iconic Auckland Bridge. It’s one of the top places to bungy jump in NZ and you can even have your head touch the water!
- Explore Ponsonby – Easily the coolest Auckland neighborhood, Ponsonby is full of trendy bars, restaurants, and boutiques. Make sure you stop at Prego for Italian food and Bedford Soda & Liquor for the best cocktails in the city!
- Go to the beach – Only 45 minutes from Auckland is the famous Piha Beach! This is one of the best beaches in New Zealand and one of the most beautiful with black sand and bright blue water. You can drive yourself or join a guided tour to get here.
Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand
Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!
You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:
- Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
- Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It is what most budget backpackers get for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping! You can easily compare campervans, prices, and book on the website Motorhome Republic. We also have a 5% discount code (QUEEN5) with Mad Campers, which you can use at checkout.
- Motorhome – A motorhome is larger and more comfortable than a campervan. Many motorhomes will comfortably sleep 6 or more people – perfect for a family visiting New Zealand. Motorhomes are the most expensive option, but with one, you won’t ever need to stay in a hotel and you’ll save money that way. Motorhome Republic is my suggested website for booking a motorhome in New Zealand simply because they are a reliable company and the website is super easy to use! We are also partnered with Kiwi Motorhomes, which is well known as the top motorhome rental company in New Zealand. You can get 5% off using the code Queen5. For more detailed info, read my complete guide to renting a motorhome in New Zealand!
Travel Insurance Has Your Back!
Life can be unpredictable and when you’re traveling abroad the last thing you want to worry about is getting sick or injured and having to pay out of pocket for treatment.
If this concerns you, SafetyWing can help! SafetyWing specializes in very affordable and comprehensive medical and travel insurance that is aimed at digital nomads, remote workers, and long-term travelers. It costs just $45 USD per 4 weeks!
To start coverage you must purchase it after leaving your home country, so we usually purchase it as soon as we land in the airport.
Since using SafetyWing we’ve been reimbursed thousands of dollars when we’ve gotten sick. During the pandemic, they’ve even gone as far as to pay for our last-minute flights back to Canada before the border closed!
Thanks for reading!
The Auckland Sky Tower is a must-see while you’re in Auckland! I hope this guide helped answer all your questions before your visit. Whether you’re taking in the views or adding on an adventurous activity while you’re up there, the Sky Tower will be a memorable addition to your vacation.
If you need any more help planning your New Zealand trip, make sure to browse around my other North Island blogs. I have tons of ideas for road trips, fun things to do, and places you should see to ensure you have the best time!