Three 9/11 first responders to remember fallen heroes in Auckland

A veteran New York firefighter says it's humbling to see New Zealand mark the 9/11 tragedy. 

Three personnel who responded to the attacks 18 years ago are in Auckland to witness the memorial stair climb of the Sky Tower. 

In total, more than 200 firefighters will climb 52 storeys of the Sky Tower on Wednesday, in memory of the September 11 World Trade Centre Attacks.

New Yorker Howard Hill, who was fire chief at the time, told Newshub he's closely connected to our firefighters.

"My cousin died here [in New Zealand], and before I left I told them [his parents] I'd be reading the name of their son - this meant a lot to them."

Hill said it's still hard as the anniversary of that fateful day approaches.

Nearly 3000 people died in the attacks - and thousands were injured.

"By the end of August, it starts mounting up," he told Newshub. "The feelings that you get; it's hard.

"It's how to get through this day. It's a very difficult thing, it never goes away."

The memorial stair climb also honours the New Zealand personnel who have died on duty.