Auckland named world's best city for 2022 by Lonely Planet
Tourism experts say they are not surprised at Auckland's accolade, predicting the city and region will cater well to the new breed of travellers emerging as travel around the globe picks up.
Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2022 guide praised Tāmaki Makaurau's' (the Maori name for Auckland) "considerable natural assets" - including its 53 volcanoes, more than 50 islands, three wine regions and numerous beaches - and "blossoming" cultural scene.
The book acknowledged it isn't always love at first sight for visitors, saying Auckland isn't "the most immediately obvious tourist destination.
"If there was ever a metropolis that benefited from a good local tour guide to show you around this is it. Wandering aimlessly in the city center just isn't going to give you a sense of why it regularly lands near or at the top of the world's most liveable cities list. For that, you are benefitting from a local tour guide who knows where to take you and takes away any organisational stress.
"It has that blend of urban, outdoors, food, wine and adventure that the modern traveller really wants, and also appeals to a diversity of travellers. It's good for couples, it's good for solo travel, it's great for families and grey nomads. It ticks a lot of boxes. I think people are going to be looking at their destination lists and thinking "I've always wanted to go to New Zealand, and I've been denied travel for so long that it's going right to the top". And as a gateway city, Auckland is very well positioned to say "don't just use it as a stopover on the way to the South Island. It's well worth staying and having a great time in and around the city."
Lonely Planet compiles its annual list of the best countries, cities and regions to visit based on input from contributors around the world. From there, a panel of travel experts select the top 10 in each category, looking at why they're great places to visit right now, the unique experiences on offer, environmental sustainability, and that hard to define "wow" factor.
The guide listed Auckland's West Coast beaches with their big waves, black sand and waterfall-filled rainforest as a highlight of a visit to the region along with the islands of the Hauraki Gulf (namely "island of wine" Waiheke and bird sanctuary Tiritiri Matangi), Auckland Museum, Auckland Art Gallery and the climbs to the top of its many volcanoes.