Auckland's Sky Tower turns 20

New Zealand 03/08/2017

It opened 20 years ago to fireworks, Army abseilers and people queuing up to be the first to have a look from the top.

Since then, Auckland's iconic Sky Tower - at 328 metres the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere - has dominated the city's skyline and become a magnet for tourists and locals alike.

Nearly 15 million visitors have been to its upper levels since ribbon-cutting day on August 3, 1997, either to dine, do the SkyJump or SkyWalk, or take in views that extend 80km on a clear day.

Part of the SkyCity complex, the tower has also shown its chameleon side down the years.

Over the past two decades, it has been lit up with different colours for more than 100 reasons, from celebrating Mother's Day to showing solidarity at the time of the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes.

As part of the 20th birthday festivities, members of the public will get the chance on Wednesday to Saturday to choose a colour to light up the structure.

"From day one, the Sky Tower's lights have held a special place in the hearts of Aucklanders," SkyCity chief operating officer John Mortensen said.

"This is an opportunity for the public to light for their special anniversary, proposal, or baby reveal, in support of their charitable cause or awareness day, and to share that moment."

As well, New Zealand residents are being offered free entry on Thursday.

Built and designed by Fletcher Construction, Moller Architects, and Beca Carter Hollings and Ferner, the tower took two years and nine months to construct.

It quickly became a symbol of Auckland and a must-do tourist attraction. In 2015, the Trip Advisor website listed it among its Traveller's Choice Top 25 Landmarks in the World.