Sky Tower (Auckland)

The Sky Tower is a telecommunications and observation tower in Auckland, New Zealand. Located at the corner of Victoria and Federal Streets within the city's CBD, it is 328 metres (1,076 ft) tall, as measured from ground level to the top of the mast,[4] making it the tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere[5] and the 25th tallest tower in the world. It has become an iconic landmark in Auckland's skyline due to its height and unique design.

Sky Tower
The tower within the SkyCity Auckland complex
General information
TypeCommunications, observation, mixed use, tourism
LocationAuckland CBD, Auckland, New Zealand
AddressCorner Victoria and Federal Streets
Coordinates36.8484°S 174.7621°E / -36.8484; 174.7621
Construction started1994
Opening3 August 1997 (1997-08-03)
CostNZ$85 million[1]
OwnerSkycity Entertainment Group
Antenna spire328 m (1,076.1 ft)
Roof236.5 m (775.9 ft)
Top floor222 m (728.3 ft)
Observatory220 m (721.8 ft)
Technical details
Floor area5,500 m2 (59,202 sq ft)[1]
Design and construction
ArchitectCraig Craig Moller Ltd.[2]
DeveloperHarrah's Entertainment[3]
Structural engineerBeca Group[2]
Main contractorFletcher Construction[2]

The tower is part of the SkyCity Auckland casino complex, originally built in 1994–1997 for Harrah's Entertainment.[3] Several upper levels are accessible to the public, attracting an average of 1,150 visitors per day (over 415,000 per year).[6]

Public facilities

The Sky Tower has several upper levels that are accessible to the public:[7]

  • Level 50: Sky Cafe
  • Level 51: Main Observation Deck
  • Level 52: Orbit 360° Dining
  • Level 53: The Sugar Club restaurant, SkyWalk and SkyJump
  • Level 60: Sky Deck

The upper portion of the tower contains two restaurants and a cafe—including New Zealand's only revolving restaurant, located 190 m (620 ft) from the ground, which turns 360 degrees every hour.[8] There is also a brasserie-style buffet located one floor above the main observatory level. It has three observation decks at different heights, each providing 360-degree views of the city. The main observation level at 186 m (610 ft) has 38 mm (1.5 in) thick glass sections of flooring giving a view straight to the ground.[9] The top observation deck labeled "Skydeck" sits just below the main antenna at 220 m (720 ft) and gives views of up to 82 km (51 mi) in the distance.[10]

The tower also features the "SkyJump", a 192-metre (630 ft)[11] jump from the observation deck, during which a jumper can reach up to 85 km/h (53 mph). The jump is guide-cable-controlled to prevent jumpers from colliding with the tower in case of wind gusts.[12] Climbs into the antenna mast portion (300 m or 980 ft heights) are also possible for tour groups,[11] as is a walk around the exterior.[13]


The tower is also used for telecommunications and broadcasting with the Auckland Peering Exchange (APE) being located on Level 48.[14] The aerial at the top of the tower hosts the largest FM combiner in the world[9] which combines with 58 wireless microwave links located above the top restaurant to provide a number of services. These include television, wireless internet, RT, and weather measurement services.[9]

The tower is Auckland's primary FM radio transmitter, and is one of four infill terrestrial television transmitters in Auckland, serving areas not covered by the main transmitter at Waiatarua in the Waitakere Ranges. A total of twenty-three FM radio stations and six digital terrestrial television multiplexes broadcast from the tower.[15][16] Two VHF analogue television channels broadcasting from the tower were switched off in the early hours of Sunday 1 December 2013 as part of New Zealand's digital television transition.[17]

Transmission frequencies

H = Horizontal V = Vertical The following table contains television and radio frequencies currently operating from the Sky Tower:

Television Station Transmit Channel Transmit Frequency Band Power (kW)
TVNZ digital28530.0 MHzUHF0.5
Sky digital30546.0 MHzUHF0.5
MediaWorks digital32562.0 MHzUHF0.5
World TV digital34578.0 MHzUHF0.5
Kordia digital A36594.0 MHzUHF0.5
Radio Station Transmit Channel Transmit Frequency Band Power (kW)
Mai FM88.6 MHzVHF16 (8 kW H+8 kW V)
Newstalk ZB89.4 MHzVHF50
The Rock90.2 MHzVHF50
ZM91.0 MHzVHF50
More FM91.8 MHzVHF50
Radio New Zealand Concert92.6 MHzVHF50
The Breeze93.4 MHzVHF50
The Sound93.8 MHzVHF8 (4 kW H+4 kW V)
The Edge94.2 MHzVHF50
bFM95.0 MHzVHF12.5
Flava95.8 MHzVHF50
George FM96.6 MHzVHF8 (4 kW H+4 kW V)
The Hits97.4 MHzVHF50
Mix 98.298.2 MHzVHF50
Radio Hauraki99.0 MHzVHF50
Life FM99.8 MHzVHF50
Radio Live100.6 MHzVHF50 (V)
RNZ National101.4 MHzVHF16 (8 kW H+8 kW V)
Niu FM103.8 MHzVHF16
Planet FM104.6 MHzVHF16 (8 kW H+8 kW V)
Coast105.4 MHzVHF50 (V)
Humm FM106.2 MHzVHF16 (8 kW H+8 kW V)


Project history

Fletcher Construction was the contracted builder for the project while engineering firm Beca Group provided the design management and coordination, structural, geotechnical, civil, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, lighting and fire engineering services. Harrison Grierson[18] provided surveying services. It was designed by Gordon Moller of Craig Craig Moller architects[2] and has received a New Zealand Institute of Architects National Award as well as regional awards.[19][20][21] The Project Architect was Les Dykstra.[22]

Taking two years and nine months to construct,[23] the tower was opened on 3 August 1997.[24]

Facts and figures

The tower is constructed of high-performance reinforced concrete. Its 12-metre (39 ft) diameter shaft (containing four lifts and an emergency stairwell) is supported on eight "legs" based on 16 foundation piles drilled over 12 m (39 ft) deep into the local sandstone.[20][21] The main shaft was built using climbing formwork.[21]

The upper levels were constructed from composite materials, structural steel, precast concrete and reinforced concrete,[21] and the observation decks clad in aluminium with blue/green reflective glass. A structural steel framework supports the upper mast structure. During construction 15,000 cubic metres (20,000 cu yd) of concrete, 2,000 tonnes (2,200 short tons) of reinforcing steel, and 660 tonnes (730 short tons) of structural steel were used. The mast weighs over 170 tonnes (190 short tons).[21][25] It had to be lifted into place using a crane attached to the structure, as it would have been too heavy for a helicopter to lift. To then remove the crane, another crane had to be constructed attached to the upper part of the Sky Tower structure, which dismantled the big crane, and was in turn dismantled into pieces small enough to fit into the elevator.[21]


The tower is designed to withstand wind in excess of 200 km/h (120 mph) and designed to sway up to 1 metre (39 in) in excessively high winds. As a safety precaution the Sky Tower's lifts have special technology installed to detect movement (such as swaying due to high wind) and will automatically slow down. If the building sway exceeds predetermined safety levels the lifts will return to the ground floor and remain there until the high winds and building sway have abated.[26]

The Sky Tower is built to withstand an 8.0 magnitude earthquake located within a 20-kilometre (12 mi) radius.[27] There are three fireproof rooms on levels 44, 45, and 46 to provide refuge in the event of an emergency, while the central service lift shaft and stairwells are also fire-safety rated.


SkyCity Auckland lights the Sky Tower to show support for a range of organisations and charities. Common lighting events include:

Energy efficient lighting

The top half of the Sky Tower is lit by energy efficient LED lighting which replaced the original metal halide floodlights in May 2009. The LEDs can produce millions of different colour combinations controlled by a DMX lighting controller. The original lights used 66 per cent more energy than the current LED system. The bottom half is lit by metal halide lamps.

Energy conservation initiatives

During the winter months, electricity consumption in New Zealand increases dramatically. As much of the power reserve in the country depends on the water level of the hydro-lakes, various power-saving schemes are introduced to prevent blackouts. In an effort to promote power saving, SkyCity turned off the tower lighting in Winter 2008, retaining only the flashing red aviation lights. SkyCity is also minimising façade flood lighting across its complex. Simon Jamieson, General Manager SKYCITY Auckland Hotels Group, said: "Like every New Zealander, we are concerned about the country's electricity supply, and we believe it is our responsibility to make this move to assist with the power saving request."[28] The tower was reilluminated on 4 August in support of New Zealand athletes competing at the Beijing Olympics.[29]

The SkyTower also use wall lights for different events, for example, they had a LED Santa on the 2007 Christmas.

Panorama as seen from Sky Deck, Sky Tower, Auckland


The Sky Tower is used in support of special charity events. The Leukemia and Blood Foundation of New Zealand organises annual fundraising stair climb challenges, notably the "Firefighters Sky Tower Stair Challenge" which sees firefighters from around New Zealand race up 1,108 steps (out of 1,267 total steps).[30] Climbing the Sky Tower stairs has been described as a "vertical marathon".[31]

The Sky Tower is also the venue of the annual "Tower de Force" competition. It includes a climb up 1,226 steps (out of 1,267 total steps), and various other military skills tests that change yearly.[32] Participants include the RNZAF, RNZN, New Zealand Army, New Zealand Defence Force veterans, New Zealand Police and, more recently, units from the New Zealand Cadet Forces. The competition is used to raise funds for numerous charities, including in 2019 Mike King's The Key to Life Charitable Trust.[33]

See also


  1. World Federation of Great Towers - Retrieved 4 July 2009
  2. Sky Tower at - Retrieved 4 July 2009
  3. In Auckland, Life Is Alfresco - The New York Times, 5 October 1997
  4. Sky Tower Official page -
  5. Napflin, Urban. Travel New Zealand: An introduction for travellers to Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud. Urban Napflin. p. 202. ISBN 9780473257330. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  6. "Glass Elevators Take Visitors to Top of Sky Tower in New Zealand | Elevator Design Information Blog". Retrieved 5 September 2016.
  7. "Explore the Sky Tower". SkyCity. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  8. Official Orbit 360 Dining page Retrieved 28 August 2014
  9. Sky Tower demonstration (Explore the Sky Tower)
  10. Sky Tower facts page Retrieved 4 June 2009
  11. Auckland: Don't Miss: Action in the outdoors (from the Tourism New Zealand website. Retrieved 2 December 2007)
  12. SkyJump (from the official website. Accessed 21 June 2008.)
  13. SkyWalk (from the official website. Accessed 27 May 2009.)
  14. What is the APE? Archived 27 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 5 June 2009
  15. "Auckland/Skytower FM transmitter info -". Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  16. "New Zealand television transmission stations in operation as of 31 March 2008 - North Island" (PDF). Kordia. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  17. "When is my area going digital? - Going Digital". New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Archived from the original on 17 October 2011. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  18. Harrison Grierson
  19. Sky Tower Archived 22 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine (from the website of Craig Craig Moller, Sky Tower's architects)
  20. Projects: Commercial: Sky Tower Archived 31 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine (from the Fletcher Construction website. Retrieved 2 December 2007.)
  21. Case Studies: Sky Tower Archived 3 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine (from the University of Auckland, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. Retrieved 1 December 2007.)
  22. , Les Dykstra - Director of Architects-ldl.
  23. "Did you know?". SkyCity Auckland. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  24. "Remember Auckland before the Sky Tower?". NZ Herald. 20 August 2012. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  25. Construction Facts (from the SkyCity Auckland website)
  26. "Some homes still powerless after storm". The New Zealand Herald, Friday 10 November 2006.
  27. "Did you know?". SKYCITY Auckland. SKYCITY. Retrieved 5 September 2016.
  28. SKYCITY Auckland switches off the Sky Tower (from a Skycity Entertainment Group press release. 10 June 2008. Accessed 14 September 2008.)
  29. Sky Tower Relights Auckland Skyline (from a Sky Entertainment Group press release. 4 August 2008. Accessed 14 September 2008.)
  30. "Key Information". Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand. Retrieved 5 September 2016.
  31. "Challenge Accepted- Swissôtel Vertical Marathon 2017". Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  32. Interactive (, N. V. "Navy triumph in Tower De Force". SKYCITY Entertainment Group. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  33. "Tower De Force 2019". Retrieved 11 June 2019.
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