12 Sep 2018

Wellington makes Lonely Planet's top NZ destination

7:09 pm on 12 September 2018

It's home to the country's biggest beehive and cake-tin, and now, for the first time, Wellington has been named the country's best place to visit, pushing Auckland off the mantle piece.

Wellington generic

Wellington has been named Lonely Planet's top NZ destination. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Travel guide Lonely Planet has just released its latest book about New Zealand, naming 20 must see destinations and things to do.

It said Wellington's coffees, craft beers, restaurants and arts scene gave the Capital an edgy yet sociable vibe, and the erratic weather "only adds zest".

Unique and quirky bars and shops are dotted throughout the city, but it's the cafes and restaurants - more per head than New York - which you can't escape.

Rotdany Pal, who runs family business Coffee Cult with her mum, said coffee runs through Wellington's veins, but there's more to the city than what you can find in the CBD.

"We don't have to drive far to get to a beautiful spot, Mount Vic, Oriental Parade and Lyall Bay, it's just all within about 10 to 20 minutes drive," she said.

Daravuth Pal thought it was good Auckland had been knocked down the list.

"We are a little quirky little capital, we're just a bit more laid back than everywhere else," he said.

Rotdany Pal (left), who runs family business Coffee Cult with her mum

Rotdany Pal (left), who runs family business Coffee Cult with her mum Photo: RNZ/ Jonathan Mitchell

Lonely Planet New Zealand spokesperson Chris Zeiher said Wellington was a special place which had lots to offer and was easy to walk around.

He was unaware about the city's recent bus woes which have caused delays and cancellations for grumpy residents.

Mayor Justin Lester said no city was perfect, but he thought on the whole Wellington was a great place to live and visit - even with the wind.

"Yeah it is good to have a nice gentle breeze from time-to-time in our city as well, but that's what helps make the place a bit wild... a bit interesting," he said.

Auckland fell from first place to fourth this time around, because of its transport congestion and inner-city construction.

And Christchurch didn't get a mention in this edition.

But it does include Waiheke Island, Kaikōura, Queenstown and the West Coast.

Māori culture, rugby and skiing also feature.

Mr Zeiher said Wellington could bank-roll on its new-found praise.

"Definitely to come in at number one, it really says that it is a destination that's doing a lot of things right... they've got a real opportunity to leverage that number one ranking," he said.

He said the New Zealand guide, which was published every couple of years, was one of its most popular reads and was translated into five different languages.