Tag Archives: Southern Hemisphere

Getting High In Auckland

If there’s one thing you need to know about me, if you don’t already, it’s that I like to get high.

Literally, high.

Wherever and whenever possible I seek out the highest point(s) in a city and make it my mission to get to the top. Most of the time I’m successful, except for that one time I tried to go up the SkyTree in Tokyo only to be told that it was too windy but I still made my way to another observation deck elsewhere in the city. Every time though, it’s worth the trip.

Auckland was do different.

Auckland Skyline

The central tower in the city skyline is the Sky Tower. It’s the tallest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere standing at 1,076ft (328m) tall. The tower itself is a part of the SKYCITY Casino down closer to the ground. But for those looking for less of a gamble and more adrenaline, look up.

The SkyJump, at 192m, is a thrilling base jump experience unlike anything else. Similar to my Bloukrans bungy experience, I can say that the ride up was probably the worst part. I was put into an elevator and as I looked around I saw a square cut out of the floor and that square was filled with glass or plastic so that as the elevator climbed I could see the ground floor. The once bright white light that shone through became a dim afterthought once I was at the top.

When it was finally my turn to step onto the platform and jump I made the mistake of looking down. Big mistake, huge. I gripped the side railing like it was my lifeline as I inched out to the ledge. As I was being strapped and buckled in I looked down and saw a giant mat with a target printed on it at the bottom. That wasn’t much better…

To take the edge off I began to chat with the instructor. I asked her about local landmarks, the Auckland Harbour and what I should do/see next. She pointed out a few things to me and then she said that it was time to jump.

Sky tower

She then explained to me that as soon as I jumped I would be stopped and I would need to look up and give a thumbs up, because they were going to take another photo of me dangling above the city…charming…but exhilarating.

sky tower 2

Then came the descent.

Falling at speeds upwards of 85kph (52mph), the buildings grew around me and the once distant sounds of the city enveloped me once again as I landed on the mat. The instructor at the bottom unhooked me and said “We have some time before our next group arrives, would you like to go again for free?”

As if I’d say no…

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Into the Southern Hemisphere

As I stood in the line for Qantas (keep in mind this was 2007, so I remember the gist of everything but not certain details) , I remember thinking “this is going to be a very long flight”. Certainly the longest flight I had ever been on up to that point in my life. Up until that roughly 15-hour flight the longest flight I had ever been on was an 8-hour ride to Spain in the Summer of 2004, it was also the only other time I had left the United States and here I was about to venture off to the other side of the world, literally, and be the farthest away from home I had ever been. Luckily, the flights to Australia generally take off at midnight from Los Angeles which can allow an easier transition to the time change because by the time you land you’ve lost two days. I remember trying to stay awake as long as I could then just passing out and, when I woke up, watching some movies and TV shows until we landed.

Now being a California guy I enjoy wearing shorts year round but the cold doesn’t get to me like most Californians. When it dips below 60 I see people bring out their scarves and mittens and beanies. I just wear my shorts, a sweatshirt and most likely sandals. This happens other places I go too. If I can wear shorts, I will. The cold doesn’t really bother me. I bring this up because I left the USA in July and this being the Southern Hemisphere, it was winter so it was cooler/cold but not to the point where I needed to layer up. It was a bit of a shock stepping out onto the cool street and knowing that it was July but I acclimated quickly.

I should note that one of my companions, who turned out to be one my good friends on this trip – I called him “T” on account of our affinity for the movie Men In Black, lost his luggage – rather the airline lost his luggage and sent it to Tahiti or someplace so he was stuck wearing the same clothes for what I think amounted to a week and a half, maybe two weeks. He had a good sense of humour about it and, still, seven years later I still bring it up and laugh about it. He literally washed his socks, boxers, and shirt every night in the sink with soap & water. It also taught me to always travel with a spare change of socks, shirt and boxers in my carry-on. So for that T, I thank you.

To help all of us newcomers to the country get acclimated to the time change we stayed out in the small beach resort town of Sorrento which is about and hour and a half south of Melbourne. Why did we stay out here? I have no idea, but I was not going to complain given the scenery. One of the first things I remember doing after putting down my bags was heading down to the beach and exploring the area.

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After exploring the coast for a bit and examining the tide pools and watching the crashing waves for a while I believe it was time to head back and partake in the boring part of why we were all there: orientation. What a great way to end the day huh? Sitting down… hearing about acceptable behaviour, social customs, pronunciation of words and things of a similar nature being discussed in great detail…Oh, and advice/guidelines for us so that we would not end up in jail or worse, deported. Don’t worry, that didn’t happen. It was boring and informative, but it sure put me in the mood to sleep, that’s for sure. It made for an easy transition into Australian life.

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