We don’t know how lucky we are

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Aloha! I’ve just had a great break on the Hawaiian island of Oahu – amazing beaches and weather as expected. 

Oahu’s Waikiki is a real tourist trap with plenty of charms but loads of ugly downsides – if you think Queens-town is overly commercial, go check out Waikiki and you’ll reassess. The urban part is a myriad of fast-food outlets, tacky retail, big-chain stores and the odd homeless person. Downtown Queenstown is charming and unspoiled by comparison. 

Tipping culture? 

One thing Waikiki does a truckload better is service – at eateries and bars. They serve the bejesus out of you, without being intrusive – in expectation of a tip. It takes a while to get the hang of how much and when you’re supposed to tip but rarely feels like you’re paying for nothing. Plenty of Queenstown places offer great service, but maybe we should introduce a tipping culture to incentivise lax front-liners. 

Paranoia reigns 

It’s easy to be complacent about security living in Queenstown. It’s generally annoying to go through airport security and slide all your carry-on belongings and contents of your pockets onto a conveyor belt for screening. In Hawaii, part of the United States, it’s worse. They want the sweaty cap you’ve been wearing for a week and also – not kidding – your jandals. Seems ridiculous, but then the fatal Boston Marathon bombings happen and you remember why the US is so paranoid. 

The soap opera goes on 

It’s interesting to return and catch up on the soap opera that is Queenstown. So much changes in a week, unlike Coro or Shorties which you can tune into every six months and still be up with the play. Lakes Environmental chief executive Hamish Dobbie has done the honourable thing and stood down. LE came in for fairly heavy criticism in the recent review document. Dobbie may just have been keen on greener pastures. Maybe, given his job was for the chop with LE’s disestablishment, he wasn’t interested in any of the new jobs at council. But if he decided, as a result of LE performance criticism the buck should stop at his desk, then hats off to him. It’s a pity we don’t see more of this personal accountability from our MPs. 

Dixon’s soap opera … 

The latest chapter in the life of infamous Queenstown bouncer Jonathan Dixon must have Destination Queenstown boss Graham Budd crying into his cornflakes. Dixon has pleaded not guilty to allegedly dishonestly accessing a computer system at Altitude bar and has been facing a jury trial where all details are pored over. No one is emerging well from the scandal which involved Dixon uploading to YouTube footage of English rugby star Mike Tindall cavorting with an ex-girlfriend weeks after his royal nuptials. Bar boss Blair Impey’s admission on the stand that staff regularly downloaded “funny” incidents from security footage of patrons to watch in-house for their amusement is appalling – but probably a common occurrence at a lot of local nightspots.