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Travel writers pay Waiheke a visit

GEORGE GARDNER
Last updated 05:00 07/05/2014
PEacock vineyard tasting
George Gardner

FOOD PAIRING: It’s quaff, scoff and blog at Peacock Sky Vineyard as the journalists are taken through a degustation wine tasting.

George W Stone
George Gardner
TOURISM COUP: George W Stone, National Geographic Traveler editor at large, is one of 62 international journalists of influence who were hosted on a day out on Waiheke Island on Sunday. He is pictured enjoying a glass of Mudbrick Syrah.

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A coup for the tourism industry could have a long-term spinoff for Waiheke after top international travel writers spent the final day of a conference trip seeing the island.

National and local tourism organisations hosted the international four-day Travel Classics conference after stiff global competition from contemporaries abroad.

It was at the Sofitel in Viaduct Harbour attended by 14 editors of influence from around the world.

They were joined by 58 other freelance journalists who paid their own, subsidised, way to attend, conference organiser Maren Rudolph says.

She is confident they will all be writing about New Zealand.

"The writers we bring would not make such an investment of time and funds unless they have a good chance of being published. They will also be blogging and writing on their own websites.

"And of the 14 major magazine editors here, none have been to New Zealand before."

The trip on Sunday offered the choice of either an art or a food and wine trail with Ananda Tours, finishing with lunch at Mudbrick.

Cindy Hatcher is senior editor of Cooking Light - the largest food magazine in circulation in the world and with more than two million ‘likes' on Facebook.

She took the food and wine tour to Rangihoua Estate and Peacock Sky Vineyard, with a stop off at Trig Hill lookout, and a quick look at Onetangi beach before lunch.

Hatcher says: "I'm really interested in New Zealand wine. I've done a tour from Wellington, through to Hawke's Bay, and now to Waiheke."

Conference keynote speaker George W Stone is editor at large of National Geographic Traveler, the world's most read travel magazine.

His art tour included a visit to Waiheke Community Art Gallery and the studios of Gabriella Lewenz and The Artist Goldsmith.

Stone is based in Singapore but says he enjoyed coming to a sub-tropical climate.

"And I would definitely enjoy a return to ‘hippy isle'. Who wouldn't want to be here?"

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development manager of tourism Jason Hill says the feedback was positive on the ferry ride back to Auckland.

"The journalists were blown away by the food, and the quality of the wine they drank - and the varieties.

"Many of them were using terms like ‘I hope you are promoting Waiheke as a core attraction to Auckland' - and we are.

"They weren't expecting Auckland to encompass such a wide range of attractions and environment."

Go to travelclassics. com to find out more about the conference.

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