One of the highlights of my recent trip to New Zealand was visiting Auckland, one of the best waterfront cities in the world. With an abundance of beaches, amazing regional parks, awesome restaurants, great places to head out, theatres, walks, water sports and more, Auckland is a city with a lot to offer.
I got a tip from a friend to check out the local casino scene, and in particular the city’s biggest and most opulent casino, SkyCity. Situated in the heart of Auckland’s central business district (CBD), the casino draws in crowds from around the world, casual punters and pro gamblers alike, as well as millions more via its online service. But there are heaps of other things to do in and around the complex, putting it high on the to-do list for visitors to the city.
The Sky Tower has become an iconic part of the Auckland skyline due to its size and design. It’s an imposing structure – at 328 meters (1,076 ft) tall from ground level to the top of the mast, it’s the tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere. As I love putting my fear of heights to the test, the first stop for me was at the observation decks.
There are three, all offering amazing panoramic views of the city – from the very top “Skydeck” you can see for more than fifty miles on a clear day. Best of all, the main observation deck at level 51 has a Perspex floor, so you can look straight down to the ground, 186 meters below!
The tower is home to the SkyCity Auckland Casino complex, with a sense of glamour and opulence to rival anywhere in Macau or Monte Carlo. Table games are very popular in the casino, and there is a dedicated baccarat room, with a great atmosphere and very helpful staff. I wasn’t au fait with the rules, but a SkyCity employee explained everything to me clearly and quickly, so I could hit the ground running.
All the different gaming zones have dedicated cashiers, bars, and some have a smoking terrace. At present, ‘red light’ COVID regulations are in place, meaning you’ll have to have a vaccine pass, and wear a mask.
As well as baccarat, SkyCity Casino has many other casino classics to enjoy. Staying at the card tables there are numerous opportunities to play blackjack – this is recommended for beginners as the rules are easy to learn, and out of all the games in casinos, your odds at beating the dealer are the most favorable.
Or try a spin on the roulette wheel – this casino icon may look like a game of chance, but there are, in fact, plenty of tactics to employ for the seasoned veteran. While it was fun playing these games, sipping a cocktail, and imagining I was a certain international super-spy, I got drawn in by something a bit less glamorous.
OK, not glamorous, but just as iconic as anything else in the casino, slot machines come in all shapes and sizes, with themes ranging across the whole of popular culture, from rock’n’roll music to movie franchises, and some feature gameplay, levels and cutting-edge graphics.
But at their heart, slots are simple, easy and fun for beginners, and if you’re lucky enough to hit the jackpot, they produce one of the classic casino sounds – chips raining down. SkyCity has over 2,100 gaming machines, many of them slots, but with lots of other options as well.
When I visited, the poker room was, sadly, closed. A glance at the website says it is still so. But, fans of poker (and all the other casino classics), can check out SkyCity online casino. I left Auckland to continue my travels around the country, but I found myself checking out the offering and playing some of the games in my downtime.
While not quite the same as the real thing, they are pretty immersive and do capture some of the atmosphere of the casino itself. It’s easy to register, and you’ll find bonuses, promotions and offers when you do. When I left New Zealand I still had the bug to play, but if you’re outside the country you’ll need to use a VPN to access the casino.
More at Sky Tower
If you need a break from the gambling, there are loads of other things to do in the complex. Not for the faint-hearted, the ‘SkyJump’ is a 192-meter jump from the observation deck, during which a jumper can reach up to 53 mph (you are attached to a cable, don’t worry).
I opted for a more mellow way to enjoy the view, sitting in the revolving restaurant at lunchtime. Aside from that, there are plenty of places to chill with a coffee or a beer, and loads more things to do in the wider area.
If you happen to find yourself in Auckland and you like your games of chance, a visit to SkyCity Casino is a definite recommendation – as a beginner, it was welcoming and fun, and although I didn’t hit the jackpot, I had an absolute blast.