'Boho' Waiheke in world's top spots

'STUNNING': Waiheke's scenery and artistic culture were praised by the New York Times write-up.
'STUNNING': Waiheke's scenery and artistic culture were praised by the New York Times write-up.

Waiheke Island has been named a must-visit destination alongside tourist hotspots like Paris and Bangkok. 

The New York Times has published a list of "46 places to go in 2013" and the wine lover's paradise - a half-hour ferry ride from downtown Auckland - has been toasted.

"Long home to fine vineyards and numerous lodges and cottages, Waiheke is embracing its bohemian side," the paper said.

Owner of Waiheke's Beach Front Restaurant Alan Tyson was as surprised as anyone to hear the news.

"It's great," he said. "But I didn't know the New York Times knew Waiheke existed."

Tyson, who has been on the island for five years, said there had been a definite increase in the number of US tourists over the past year but he did not expect word to travel back so quickly.

He was crossing his fingers more Americans would visit the island as news spread of its inclusion on the must-see list, as they were big spenders.

The paper singles out Waiheke's artistic culture as being particularly impressive and mentions this month's Headland Sculpture on the Gulf, "installed along a stunningly scenic coastal path", as something well worth committing a trip for.

"The 35-square-mile island is now dotted with new shops and galleries that sell sculptures and paintings from the dozens of local artists."

It was the landscape that Tyson thought was the greatest draw card though.

He said tourists were often stunned by the beautiful, secluded beach before looking at the vineyards behind them.

Whether it is going to have a huge difference on tourism remains to be seen but Tyson said it certainly could not hurt.

"God knows what [the New York Times'] circulation is, probably more than the entire population of New Zealand," he said.

Auckland Now