I am about to jump from a platform 192m above ground, with nothing but a rope to slow my fall. The fact hits me as the glass lift begins its ascent to the 53rd floor of the Auckland Sky Tower, New Zealand's tallest building.
I catch glimpses of buildings and streets shrinking beneath me. The weather could not have been better to take in the view. The sky is clear and the sun is out, driving away the cold and rain that had been around much of the week I was there. My eyes, though, are glazed with fear.
It is May 29th, the last day of my six-day media trip to New Zealand. Earlier, when my hosts suggested that we try the Auckland SkyJump, I leapt at the chance. What better way to end the trip than with a bird’s-eye view of the city?
Bird’s eye plunge, actually.
In the lift, I begin to regret my decision. Am I really about to do this? I try not to show any hint of fear to the three journalists with me, all of us clad in blue-yellow jumpsuits and a harness equipped with a myriad of hooks and loops.
We troop to the waiting area, where you get to watch the people ahead of you. They go through an endless array of safety checks before disappearing off the ledge, a giant coil of rope unwinding behind them.
The winch makes such a frightful noise that the rope operator has to wear earmuffs. The sound still gives me chills.
It is my turn. I enter the jump area. Harness secure? Check. Shoes tight? Check.
A staff member straps a GoPro camera to my wrist, and I gamely pose for a photo even though my mind is racing. I gingerly step onto to a ramp, holding on to the railing for dear life. Another photo op.
I have a second to take in the view before the staff cheekily tells me to hang my GoPro over the edge to show viewers the drop (I look away at that point).
A slow, agonising walk leads to the edge of the drop, and the staff connects the vital cord to my back. My palms melt into two side ropes for support. A deep breath, a countdown: “3-2-1... go!”
I hesitate before finally letting go. Then, I am airborne.
All the air in my lungs escapes in the loudest scream I can muster, until I feel the gentle pull of the cord slowing me.
Then it is bliss. I feel the rush of cold air, as the platform where I will land - with a bullseye on it - gets bigger and bigger. I whoop in pleasure.
The fall took 11 seconds, I later find out, but it seemed to take no time at all.
Feet firmly on the ground, I feel a sense of triumph like no other.
I conquered you, I tell the tower.
Location: Auckland Sky Tower, corner of Federal and Victoria Street
Adult - NZ$225 (S$210)
Child (age 10-15) - NZ$175
Family (two adults & two students) - NZ$700
Alternatively, there is the more leisurely SkyWalk, where instead of jumping off, participants can walk round the 192m-high platform and take in panoramic views of the city.
Five things to do when in Auckland
Just 35 minutes by ferry from downtown Auckland, Waiheke Island is home to over a dozen vineyards, many of whom welcome visitors with wine tasting sessions all year round. There are also several olive groves which produce a wide range of olive oils.
After indulging, visitors can try their hand at zip lining, archery, clay pigeon shooting, and horse riding, among other activities.
The Britomart precinct on Auckland’s waterfront is a collection of eclectic eateries, bars and boutiques, many of them located in historical buildings that have been restored. The quaint area is home to some of New Zealand’s top designers, including Trelise Cooper, Karen Walker, Kate Sylvester and Zambesi.
Auckland Adventure Jet
Forget a relaxing cruise. Take a heart-pumping tour of the Auckland Harbour at speeds of over 90kmh in a souped up jetboat. Your skipper will tell you all about the sights as he executes daredevil turns and tricks. Be prepared to get wet.
Auckland War Memorial Museum
Built in 1929, the Auckland Museum is New Zealand’s first museum. It holds a wide range of indigenous Maori artefacts and collections from Polynesia and the Pacific. A treasure trove for culture and history buffs.
Auckland Harbour Bridge bungy
If the SkyJump is not enough, take a plunge from a pod suspended from the Auckland Harbour Bridge, 40m above the glittering Waitemata Harbour.