Auckland hits the top 10 in world best cities list
Auckland has been rated one of the world's top 10 cities to visit by travel bible Lonely Planet, due to its revitalised waterfront, shopping and dining precincts, scenery and culture.
The city, which attracts 1.8 million foreign visitors a year, sits alongside iconic places including Paris, Zurich, Shanghai and Vancouver in the ninth annual Best in Travel guide, published this week. The book highlights the best trends, destinations, journeys and experiences for the upcoming year.
Auckland was praised for its newly revitalised waterfront districts such as the Wynyard Quarter, and shopping and dining precincts such as the City Works Depot and Britomart.
Also singled out are black-sand beaches on the west coast, the Waitakere Ranges, Rangitoto Island, Waiheke Island, the 77km Hillary Trail, the SkyWalk atop Auckland's Sky Tower and the refurbished Auckland Art Gallery. "Auckland is often overlooked by travellers eager to head for the stellar alpine and lake landscapes further south, but food, arts and exploring the coastal hinterland are all excellent reasons to extend your stay in New Zealand's biggest and most cosmopolitan city," the book says.
Auckland's many festivals and events, vibrant Maori and Pacific culture and impressive line-up of major sporting events also got a mention.
The Top 10 Cities were independently nominated by more than 500 authors and staff of Lonely Planet, the largest travel guide book publisher in the world.
Auckland marketing expert Graham McGregor said such an award from a brand such as Lonely Planet would do wonders for tourism. "Any time somebody who's not you says you're good, that's much better than you saying you're good. You have someone ... endorsing you, saying you're the tenth best city in the world to travel to; that's a great feather in the cap and the council should definitely use that in their marketing."
The Mayor of Auckland, Len Brown, said the accolade for the city was well deserved. "The work we are doing to make Auckland a fabulous place to live and visit is paying off and putting Auckland on the map."
Brett O'Riley, chief executive of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development, said the recognition added weight to the city's marketing efforts to attract domestic and international visitors.
It follows several other destination accolades in the past year, including Lonely Planet's current New Zealand guide labelling the Hauraki Gulf and its islands and Auckland as the top two NZ experiences.