Twice, I’ve had the pleasure of dining at New Zealand’s only revolving restaurant. Appropriately named Orbit, it’s situated near the top of Auckland’s Sky Tower – the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere – and it’s the poshest restaurant I’ve ever been to.
New Zealand is blessed when it comes to great places to eat, but Orbit is something else. It’s not the food that makes it so special – although the food is amazing; quite literally haute cuisine – it’s the view: awe-inspiring, unique and constantly changing.
That view, of course, is of the whole of Auckland City and the sea beyond. It’s wonderful to see the concrete jungle from above, with its patches of green parks and volcanoes, and the hundreds of yachts arranged like ballet dancers upon the glistening harbour. That’s how I saw it when I went at lunchtime. When I went in the evening, however, I saw 360 degrees of sunset followed by the vast, iridescent cobweb of city lights upon the darkness. The food was just a bonus, really.
When you go Orbit, you’re warned that a high standard of dress is required – that’s how posh it is. Also, the parking at the Sky Tower is super sophisticated. If you can’t remember where you parked, which is embarrassingly easy in that place, there are touchscreen computers next to the lifts that you can put your licence plate number into, and they’ll use the security cameras to find your car for you. Cool, eh? Remember to ask the restaurant staff for a parking discount.
Of course, the food is expensive, but not heart attack-inducingly so (for what it is, at least.) For dinner, there is a minimum spend of $40 per person, (and $30 for lunch,) but that includes admission to the observation decks. They have quite a good dinner deal where you can get a starter, main and desert for $69. (At lunchtime, you can get a starter, main and drink for $49.) So not too bad. Besides, the food is excellent. Just look at the current menu!
Both times I’ve been to Orbit, the starters have been better than the mains. I mean the mains were certainly better than I could have done at home, but the starters were out of this world. Let me put it this way: The standard of restaurants is so high in New Zealand that for me to consider a meal above average, it must give me a food-gasm with every bite. Those starters did just that. I haven’t stopped going on about my venison carpaccio!
I don’t really care about how the food in restaurants is presented, but, of course, the food at Orbit is presented very nicely. The service is friendly and, if anything, too quick – this is a restaurant where you actually want the food to take ages so you can admire the view for longer. Orbit takes one hour to do one full revolution, and the view may include the odd person plummeting past the window.
When I went at lunchtime, I felt like I was in that Monty Python sketch. You know… this one…
The people plummeting down the side of the Sky Tower were attached to cables, though. The SkyJump is a popular (if expensive) activity for thrill-seeking tourists. I want to do it one day.
So… is New Zealand’s only revolving restaurant worth going to? Yes. The food is amongst the best you’ll get in the country and the view is second-to-none. Just one last piece of advice:
Don’t leave your handbag on the floor on the window-side of the table. You’ll look down to find it’s vanished and, after a moment of confusion, realise why and feel really stupid. Also, good luck finding your table again after going to the bathroom!