Auckland's Waiheke Island has topped the likes of the Maldives and St. Lucia on Conde Nast Traveler's Best Islands in the World List.
The wine-lovers paradise was named fourth on the list, chosen by readers of the influential travel magazine.
The top three islands in the world, as named by readers, were Palawan in the Philippines, Bora Bora and Moorea, both located in French Polynesia.
Given an overall rating of 84.447, Waiheke was described as:
"A mix of Nantucket and Sonoma, with New Zealand charm, the island is a wine-lover's nirvana. Just over 30 minutes from Auckland by boat, the island hosts a manageable number of vineyards and great restaurants, perfect for a day escape from the mainland. With beaches on the north side of the island and WWII tunnels to explore, there is no lack of excitement on Waiheke."
The island has been a hit with celebrities from all over the world, who've headed to its shores for a mini-break while in Auckland for concerts.
In 2013 Taylor Swift posted snaps of her running through Waiheke's famed vineyards to her millions of fans on social media.
In 2014 Miley Cyrus headed over to the island for a fishing tour before dining at The Oyster Inn.
Successive community boards and the first Waiheke Local Board have also played their part in ensuring rates go towards building the island’s visitor infrastructure to meet the growing demands of the tourism market. Indeed, this is exactly what local government is for according to the Local Government Act which states:
Purpose of local government
The purpose of local government is--
(a) to enable democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf of, communities; and
(b) to meet the current and future needs of communities for good-quality local infrastructure, local public services, and performance of regulatory functions in a way that is most cost-effective for households and businesses.
So in order to fulfil its purpose the Waiheke Local Board needs to play its part in maintaining the island’s core infrastructure ready to meet the demands of a world class visitor destination, especially during peak season.
The first Waiheke Local Board did this by using its discretionary budget to increase Council service levels at peak times. This allowed tracks to be maintained more frequently, waste bins to be emptied more times a day, streets to be swept clear of litter.
Sadly, this second Board has put no effort into such core local government business. Instead they have frittered away their discretionary money on reports, consultants, management fees, and paying their mates on the mis-named Waiheke Resources Trust to tell tourists to pick up their litter, like so many little Hitlers.
No new infrastructure has been added to the island since they took office unless it had already been put in place by the first Waiheke Local Board (library, library courtyard, Service Centre upgrade, Onetagi Sports Park Pavilion extension, toilets on the Round Waiheke Walk, to name a few).
I suppose this is not surprising given this Board’s anti-tourism stance. However, such a stance is unsustainable. In the long run Waiheke is a driver for growth in the Auckland economy. If local politicians fail in their duty to uphold the very purpose of local government then Auckland Council cannot afford to stand idly by and let the island’s infrastructure fall into disrepair because that is the desire of a few Luddite local politicians.