The need for the sustainable management of resources has been recognised since the early 1980s. However, the concept that the physical landscape is also a resource which needs to be managed and quantified is more recent. New Zealand is one country where sustainable management is paramount, as the natural landscape has become the country's greatest asset. Mechanisms to quantify the aesthetic quality of the landscape are now regarded as essential management tools. Research, however, has shown that it is peoples' perception of the landscape which truly reflects its value. The focus of this research was therefore to quantify the residents' and visitors' perception of the Waiheke Island environment. The diversity of landscapes and stunning natural beauty of Waiheke made it the ideal choice for a study on visual perception. Part of the research design included identifying the differences in perception between Waiheke residents. New Zealand domestic visitors and international visitors. Previous research had confirmed that there were differences between locals and visitors: however the individual groups were not clearly defined. The research design was a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods which generated data with both richness and depth. The Q sort method with photographs was well suited for this type of research, with visual stimuli allowing for subjective judgements to be made. Participants' personal values and opinions were also sought as part of the interview process, to add depth to the Q sort data. The scale of the research was larger than similar studies, with a total of 82 interviews undertaken, of which a significant number were residents of the Island. The results of this study confirmed that the environment was perceived differently by the population groups. International visitors in particular showed a high preference for the natural landscape. The inclusion of public preferences in the planning process was also supported by this research. A higher level of community involvement will ensure the effective implementation of management strategies in the future. This study reinforces the use of Q sort method as a research tool for understanding peoples' perception of the environment, which can be useful in developing planning strategies.