Auckland has been named one of the Top 10 Cities in the world to visit in 2014, according to Lonely Planet’s newest edition of its annual Best in Travel guide.
Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, sits alongside other iconic cities, including Paris, Zurich, Shanghai and Vancouver and has been recognised for its mouth-watering cuisine, vibrant culture and stunning coastal scenery.
"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 world’s number one independent guidebook says.
Perched between two glistening harbours and on the doorstep of the extensive marine playground of the Hauraki Gulf, Auckland - or the ‘City of Sails’ as it is also known - was also highlighted in the ninth edition of the publication for its diverse and easily accessible activities and adventures.
These include exploring the region’s wild west coast beaches, canyoning and abseiling in the Waitakere Ranges. The Hauraki Gulf and islands, including Waiheke Island’s many vineyards, and kayaking to volcanic Rangitoto were also mentioned.
Auckland’s newly revitalised waterfront districts including Wynyard Quarter, and inner-city precincts like City Works Depot and Britomart - with their boutique shops, unique dinning and scrumptious cocktail bars - all add to the Auckland experience.
The city's many festivals and events, vibrant Māori and Pacific culture, and impressive line-up of major sporting events also received special mention.
"Auckland has evolved beyond a gateway city to become a destination for international travellers in its own right. Set against a stunning waterfront backdrop, with a foodie scene that rivals the best cities in the world and with a vibrancy that few other cities can boast - Auckland deserves its position in this year’s Top 10 City list," according to Lonely Planet’s Asia Pacific Sales and Marketing Director, Chris Zeiher.
The Top 10 Cities were independently nominated by more than 500 Lonely Planet authors and staff, and selection was based on topicality, excitement and that special X-factor.
One of Auckland's greatest attractions is a unqiue combination of urban lifestyle and a surrounding region that includes some of New Zealand's best scenery.
Within half-an-hour of downtown Auckland, visitors can relax on an island, trek through native rainforest, sample wines at a local vineyard or walk along a wild, black sand surf beach.
With around 1.8 million international visitors annually, Auckland’s recognition in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2014 follows several other destination accolades in the last year, including Lonely Planet’s current New Zealand guide labelling Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf and islands and Auckland city as the top two New Zealand experiences.
Auckland’s recognition follows on from Christchurch which came in a number six in the 2013 list.