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Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
Wine tour operator, wine writer and lapsed physiotherapist. "Nature abhors a vacuum. I personally hate dusting."


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mixed feelings - Auckland's 'Orbit' revolving restaurant

Phil Parker runs wine tours around Auckland New Zealand.

The in-laws were up from Dunedin and last Friday was my dear Mum-in-law's birthday.
So, for something different we booked Auckland's Sky City Hotel's revolving restaurant - Orbit.
I always wondered how the revolving thing worked - like: do all the electrics and plumbing get tensioned up at one point, and the lights go dim, and the toilets won't flush, so they have to reverse to unwind it - to relieve the pressure. And stuff like that. In fact - the revolving bit is just the dining area. The middle bit and the outside walls stay still.

As a rule of thumb, with restaurants - if the view's good the food's bad, but I have had nothing but good feedback from my overseas guests who have dined at Orbit. We booked for 6.30 and eventually got there after threading through AKL's mad traffic.

I had been up there before for the view in daytime, but we were in luck as it was a clear night and the twinkling white, amber, red and blue tiny lights of the city extended to the dusky horizon. The only dark patches without twinkles were the Waitemata and Manukau harbours - which, but for Auckland's isthmus, would convert the North Island into two islands. (Luckily Auckland has a very merry little isthmus).

In short - a fab evening. The food was faultless. I had crayfish (that's rock lobster to USA readers). Others had lamb, snapper, pork and scallops.

Unfortunately, the service was, er, patchy. I ordered two bottles of wine - they turned up after about 10 m minutes, plonked on the table and abandoned by the waitress (plus we had no wine glasses!). By the time we ordered another two, I was presented with a bottle by a different waitperson, to approve of in the normal manner. On the plus side, the Chardonnay was just slightly chilled and the Pinot just above room temperature.
You get the impression that the waiting staff were pressured, inexperienced, and not at the level of grooming and attention to detail that you would expect when all else was of such a high standard. Which is a pity - as Orbit has everything else going for it.

Yennyhoo - the wines:

Ormond 'O' Gisborne Chardonnay 2006 from NZ's Pernod Ricard. Toasty, dry and elegant with buttery cashew, stonefruit, mineral and citrus flavours. Perfect match for the crayfish in the shell.

Gibbston Valley Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007. Soft, sweet and ripe, with black cherry/blackberry, soy, plum and cassis, with a hint of mocha. Fantastic. One of the best Pinots I have tasted this year.


  1. Yep that Gibbston Valley is pretty good alright. But Gisborne chardy? Nothing from Marlborough or Kumeu? ;)

  2. The wine list didn't have any Kumeu. Not much of a Chard selection - as I recall. The other options were over-priced, (and younger) stuff like Te Mata Woodthorpe and some Waiheke. I'm a huge fan of Gisborne chards for consistency. Would have happily consumed a West Brook 2004 Blue Ridge given the chance!