Sky Tower (Auckland)

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This article is about Sky Tower in Auckland. For other uses, see Sky Tower (disambiguation).
Sky Tower
Sky Tower Collage Auckland.jpg
Left to right: Looking up at the Sky Tower, Sky Tower at night
General information
Type Communications, observation, mixed use, tourism
Location Auckland City, New Zealand
Coordinates 36°50′54″S 174°45′44″E / 36.848461°S 174.762183°E / -36.848461; 174.762183Coordinates: 36°50′54″S 174°45′44″E / 36.848461°S 174.762183°E / -36.848461; 174.762183
Construction started 1994
Completed 1997
Opening 3 August 1997
Cost US$50 million or NZ$76 million[1]
Owner SKYCITY Entertainment Group
Antenna spire 328 m (1,076.1 ft)
Top floor 222 m (728.3 ft)
Technical details
Floor area 5,500 m2 (59,202 sq ft)[1]
Lifts/elevators 4
Design and construction
Architect Craig Craig Moller Ltd.[2]
Developer Harrah's Entertainment[3]
Structural engineer Beca Group[2]
Main contractor Fletcher Construction[2]

The Sky Tower is an observation and telecommunications tower located on the corner of Victoria and Federal Streets in the Auckland CBD, Auckland City, New Zealand. It is 328 metres (1,076 ft) tall, as measured from ground level to the top of the mast,[4] making it the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere. Due to its shape and height, especially when compared to the next tallest structures, it has become an iconic structure in Auckland's skyline.


The upper sections of the Sky Tower

The tower is part of the SKYCITY Auckland casino complex, originally built for Harrah's Entertainment.[3] The tower attracts an average of 1,450 visitors per day (over 500,000 per year).[5]

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.[6] 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.[7] 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.[8]

The tower also features the 'SkyJump', a 192-metre (630 ft)[9] 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.[10] Climbs into the antenna mast portion (300 m or 980 ft heights) are also possible for tour groups,[9] as is a walk around the exterior.[11]

The tower is also used for telecommunications and broadcasting with the Auckland Peering Exchange (APE) being located on Level 48.[12] The aerial at the top of the tower hosts the largest FM combiner in the world[7] 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.[7]

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.[13][14] 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.[15]

The tower was also used for a Fast Forward on the thirteenth season of The Amazing Race. Their task was for teams (Ken & Tina in particular) to use tower's maintenance ladders to climb from the sky deck to red light at the top to get a friend, the Travelocity gnome. It also appeared on 1st season of Asian Version of the show for a RoadBlock task. One member from each team has to complete the "SkyJump" before continuing the race.

Transmission frequencies[edit]

The following table contains television and radio frequencies currently operating from the Sky Tower:

Television Station Transmit Channel Transmit Frequency Band Power (kW)
TVNZ digital 28 530.0 MHz UHF 0.5
Sky digital 30 546.0 MHz UHF 0.5
MediaWorks digital 32 562.0 MHz UHF 0.5
World TV digital 34 578.0 MHz UHF 0.5
Kordia digital A 36 594.0 MHz UHF 0.5
Kordia digital B 40 626.0 MHz UHF 0.5
Radio Station Transmit Channel Transmit Frequency Band Power (kW)
Mai FM 88.6 MHz VHF 16
Newstalk ZB 89.4 MHz VHF 50
The Rock 90.2 MHz VHF 50
ZM 91.0 MHz VHF 50
More FM 91.8 MHz VHF 50
Radio New Zealand Concert 92.6 MHz VHF 50
The Breeze 93.4 MHz VHF 50
The Sound 93.8 MHz VHF 8
The Edge 94.2 MHz VHF 50
bFM 95.0 MHz VHF 12.5
Flava 95.8 MHz VHF 50
George FM 96.6 MHz VHF 8
Classic Hits 97.4 MHz VHF 50
Radio Sport 98.2 MHz VHF 50
Radio Hauraki 99.0 MHz VHF 50
Life FM 99.8 MHz VHF 50
Radio Live 100.6 MHz VHF 50
Radio New Zealand National 101.4 MHz VHF 16
Kiwi FM 102.2 MHz VHF 50
Niu FM 103.8 MHz VHF 16
Planet FM 104.6 MHz VHF 16
Coast 105.4 MHz VHF 50
Humm FM 106.2 MHz VHF 16


Glass flooring seen inside one of the observation decks
Sky Tower as part of the Auckland Skyline

Project history[edit]

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 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.[16][17][18]

Taking two years and 9 months to construct, the tower was opened on 3 August 1997, six months ahead of schedule.[19]

Project team[edit]

Project Architect: Les Dykstra[20][21]

Facts and figures[edit]

The tower is constructed of high-performance reinforced concrete. Its 12-metre (39 ft) diameter shaft (containing three 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.[17][18] The main shaft was built using climbing formwork.[18]

The upper levels were constructed from composite materials, structural steel, precast concrete and reinforced concrete,[18] 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).[18][22] 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.[18]


The tower is designed to withstand wind in excess of 200 km/h (120 mph) and resist earthquakes with a 1,000 year return period. Analysis shows that an earthquake centered 40 kilometres (25 mi) away and reaching 7.0 on the Richter magnitude scale is expected to leave the tower practically undamaged. Even an earthquake measured at a magnitude of 8.0 (31.6 times more energy released than a 7.0 quake), and located only 20 km (12 mi) away, is not expected to collapse the tower.[18] As an additional safeguard against emergencies, fireproof rooms on the lower levels of the observation deck would provide refuge in the unlikely event of a conflagration, while the stairwell itself is also fire-safety rated.[22]

The Sky Tower has so far been closed at least once for weather-related reasons, during a storm in November 2006, when the structure started to sway noticeably in winds of up to 150 km/h (93 mph). The closure was noted as not having been strictly necessary except for visitor comfort, as the tower has been designed to sway up to one metre (39 in)[23] in high winds of up to 210 km/h (130 mph), which are expected to occur only once in 1,000 years on average.[18]


Sky Tower illuminated in Christmas colours. Various other lighting schemes and colours are also used.

The Sky Tower features prominently on the Auckland skyline at night due to its extensive illumination and SkyCity uses this lighting of the tower to promote various causes using a number of colours or mix of colours. A few examples are:

Energy efficient lighting[edit]

Over the week ending 29 May 2009 the previous metal halide floodlights, which had been used since the Sky Tower's construction in 1997, were replaced with LED lights to reduce energy usage. The project began in October 2007. The previous lights were difficult to modify, repair or change colours due to the building's height.[24] The new lighting system produces more lumens per watt and uses 66% less energy compared to the previous floodlights, with a longer working life. They also produce less heat, remaining cooler. The LEDs can produce millions of different colours and be controlled from a laptop, compared to the previous method of manually installing filters to change light colours. On this day a rainbow display was shown to the public at night, after the LED lights were successfully trialled the night before.[25]

Energy conservation initiatives[edit]

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.[citation needed] 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."[26] The tower was reilluminated on 4 August in support of New Zealand athletes competing at the Beijing Olympics.[27]

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

360-degree panorama as seen from Sky Deck, Sky Tower, Auckland

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b World Federation of Great Towers - Retrieved 2009-07-04
  2. ^ a b c d Sky Tower at - Retrieved 2009-07-04
  3. ^ a b In Auckland, Life Is Alfresco - The New York Times, 5 October 1997
  4. ^ Sky Tower Official page -
  5. ^ Sky Tower Education (from the SKYCITY Auckland website. Accessed 2008-03-04.)
  6. ^ Official Orbit page Retrieved 2009-07-04
  7. ^ a b c Sky Tower demonstration (Explore the Sky Tower)
  8. ^ Skytower facts page Retrieved 4 June 2009
  9. ^ a b Auckland: Don't Miss: Action in the outdoors (from the Tourism New Zealand website. Retrieved 2 December 2007)
  10. ^ SkyJump (from the official website. Accessed 2008-06-21.)
  11. ^ SkyWalk (from the official website. Accessed 2009-05-27.)
  12. ^ What is the APE? Retrieved 5 June 2009
  13. ^ "Auckland/Skytower FM transmitter info -". Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  14. ^ "New Zealand television transmission stations in operation as of 31 March 2008 - North Island". Kordia. Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  15. ^ "When is my area going digital? - Going Digital". New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  16. ^ Sky Tower (from the website of Craig Craig Moller, Sky Tower's architects)
  17. ^ a b Projects: Commercial: Sky Tower (from the Fletcher Construction website. Retrieved 2007-12-02.)
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h Case Studies: Sky Tower (from the University of Auckland, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. Retrieved 2007-12-01.)
  19. ^ Sky Tower (from 'Feature Projects', Beca Group website)
  20. ^ [1], Les Dykstra - Director of Architects-ldl.
  21. ^ [2], "Aqua House", Editorial Review by Tony van Raat.
  22. ^ a b Construction Facts (from the SKYCITY Auckland website)
  23. ^ Some homes still powerless after storm - The New Zealand Herald, Friday 10 November 2006
  24. ^ [3] (Auckland’s Sky Tower joins list of global landmarks lit by PhilipsLED technology. Accessed 4 July 2009)
  25. ^ [4] (29 May 2009 Media Release - Skycity Entertainment Group. Accessed 4 July 2009)
  26. ^ SKYCITY Auckland switches off the Sky Tower (from a SKYCITY Entertainment Group Limited press release. 10/06/2008. Accessed 2008-09-14.)
  27. ^ Sky Tower Relights Auckland Skyline (from a SKYCITY Entertainment Group Limited press release. 04/08/2008. Accessed 2008-09-14.)

External links[edit]