The Auckland Harbour Bridge climb gives you the chance to experience the city in a unique way.
Standing 67m above Auckland Harbour is the perfect way to transform yourself into a tourist in the City of Sails. Living and working in New Zealand's biggest city can cause you to take the place for granted. But from the top of the Harbour Bridge you see Auckland from a different perspective.
As an outsider - albeit a temporary one - you discover a different city with a lively downtown area full of fine dining, urban markets, galleries, vibrant nightlife and thrill-seeking adventures, all within walking distance.
Our experience as tourists began late on a Friday afternoon when we arrived at the Quadrant Hotel, just opposite Old Government House on Waterloo Quadrant.
Our car, whisked away by the valet, will not be needed for the rest of our stay because this is an area best explored on foot, avoiding hassles with traffic or parking.
The 12th-floor apartment, with views across to Rangitoto Island, is compact and contemporary, everything you need without the cramped feeling often associated with inner city living.
After a couple of drinks at the loungey Quad Bar, we head to dinner at Bellota, SkyCity's newest restaurant, offering traditional Spanish tapas. The restaurant is full and buzzing, but there is no need to raise our voices, because the seating areas are pleasantly intimate.
With hundreds of restaurants and bars, Auckland's inner city offers unlimited options for finding a great meal, and a number even feature live music.
A quick flick through an events guide - like the Herald's What's On guide or viewauckland.co.nz - is the easiest way to check out what's available. The good news for tourists is that most smaller events are free or have a door charge of only $5-$10.
Tonight we head to Coco Club on Fort Lane, just off lower Queen St, which turns out to be a sophisticated, relaxing bar offering live jazz Tuesday to Saturday.
Next morning we're pleased we didn't end up somewhere wilder because we've got an early start - fortified by breakfast at the Quad Kitchen - to get our tourist-eye perspective on the city.
The Bridge Climb mini-bus collects us from the hotel, picking up others along the way, including a British girl here for the Harbour Bridge bungy jump. "Are you guys doing the jump? I don't know why I'm doing this, I'm so scared. My parents are going to freak out, they don't even like me going in the deep end of the pool!"
We're dropped at Westhaven Reserve, sign a worryingly comprehensive wad of releases, and are separated into two groups: jumpers and climbers.
We 11 climbers - wimpish or sane depending on your viewpoint - are kitted out in grey jumpsuits and safety harnesses.
At the base of the bridge with traffic humming overhead, we clip on to the safety line and follow the purpose-built walkway up, up and up.
The climb takes you below, inside and above the bridge. The first part, beneath the clip-ons, is a gentle stroll which gradually moves further away from the city and the water below.
From time to time we stop so our guide, Leighton, can explain the history and construction technique of the bridge.
Climbing down to the concrete foundations we hear how one worker lost his life during construction. Just below the road, separated from the speeding traffic by only a few layers of concrete and steel we can feel and see the road moving overhead.
There's also a chance to pause for a close-up view of the jumpers as they shoot pass. I feel dizzy just looking down, never mind jumping.
Surfacing at road level, we make the final triumphant climb to the top, relax, enjoy the spectacular views of the city and pose for the obligatory photos.
Afterwards we decide to explore the city centre close up, wandering along Quay St to the Ferry Building, picking up a large gelato each from Valentino's, then walking up Queen St to the Aotea Markets.
Every Friday and Saturday, rain or shine, from 10am-6pm, Aotea Square fills with blue and white tents, food, jewellery, clothing, and live music. Today, entertainment is provided by a South American group.
Next on our agenda is a short walk up Wellesley St to the Auckland Art Gallery which hosts a free exhibition of works by local and international artists dating from the 14th century. This is a great place to wander round at your own pace, or you can join the daily 2pm guided tour.
There's lots more art on display in the central city, where there's a real cluster of galleries, so we pick up a map for the Walk of Art (available from the city gallery or its website www.aucklandartgallery.govt.nz).
Unfortunately the private galleries are closed on Sunday but you can window-shop, and not just for art - the Walk of Art goes past many of Auckland's best boutiques and designer shops - in High St, Vulcan Lane and the Chancery - where there's always something interesting to see. Maybe it's just as well they're not open.
By the time we head home we've had a great weekend being tourists in our own city. When we go to work on Monday the place looks different somehow. Maybe we've been taking it for granted.
* Kara Segedin was a guest of Tourism Auckland
There's a special discovery offer of one night's accommodation at The Quadrant, an a la carte breakfast and guided bridge climb (transfer included) for $150 a person.
Contact 0800 AUCKLAND or visit www.aucklandnz.com/discover