Dining in Auckland is about to be taken to new heights with some of the country's best chefs serving gastronomic delights at a table suspended 50m in the air.
Renowned Kiwi chefs Simon Gault and Gareth Stewart are among those involved in Dinner in the Sky, which sees 22 diners seated at a specially engineered table hoisted by crane over the city.
Diners board the platform at ground level and are strapped into seats with a harness with legs left dangling underneath. Guests are told to leave all belongings, apart from a camera or phone, on the ground.
"The table is a good size so as long as people put their camera in the middle it will stay there, it is very stable," Events in the Sky director Steve Chung said.
The platform is then raised into the air and stays there for the hour duration of the meal.
Toilet breaks before take-off are strongly advised — no one wants to be the person they have to lower the whole table for.
The meal is prepared and cooked in the sky at a central kitchen station by the chefs who are harnessed in but can walk around.
Chung said he has never had an issue with a chef scared of heights.
"Chefs are a pretty resilient lot and they are usually pretty daring and adventurous."
Events in the Sky director Steve Chung has suspended tables in more than 50 countries, including Tokyo, London and Paris.
Now it is Auckland's turn to host the exclusive sky-high events with the table suspended at the waterfront, near the Cloud, on February 1-18.
"New Zealand's food and restaurant scene has really exploded in the past few years," Chung said. "It was the right time to bring our concept here." Gault of Giraffe, Stewart of Euro, Phil Clark of Phil's Kitchen, Fraser Shenton of Fish, Juan Balsani of Augustus Bistro and Giulio Sturla of Christchurch restaurant Roots will cook at separate events.
"We take care of our guests and give them the most amazing experience with the very best food, matched award-winning wines and champagne, and the best views.
"It is a very special event and everyone — including the chefs — really do like being involved," Chung said.
World famous Michelin star chefs such as Heston Blumenthal and Joel Robuchon have created dishes in the sky-high galley for guests including Prince Albert of Monaco, rock stars and A-list actors.
The event was postponed last year because of freight delays due to industrial action in Sydney.
Chung said the experience was worth the wait and offered some of the best views of Auckland Harbour and looking back toward the city.
He had looked at taking the event to other parts of New Zealand including Wellington and Queenstown.
As well as star-studded dinners, the company had also hosted weddings, birthdays and a bird's-eye view of rock-concerts and motorsport events around the globe.
He had even started researching the possibility of offering the "best seats in the house" for the upcoming America's Cup.
Tickets for the events range from $248 for cocktails to $498 for dinner cooked by Simon Gault. There are seven "flights" most days: one brunch, two lunches, one wine tasting, one cocktail and two dinner flights.
Chung said the price was all-inclusive and promised top quality food and wine as well as uncompromised safety.
All of the equipment was purpose-built and designed in Germany and safety checks were taken at every step of the way.