Wellington trumps Auckland, Queenstown as New Zealand's top destination

Wellington has beaten Auckland and Queenstown to be named New Zealand's best destination, branded "one of the coolest little capitals in the world". 

The latest edition of Lonely Planet's guidebook says New Zealand's capital city is the best place for tourists to visit, praising the city for its art-house cinemas, trendy bars and live music scene. 

"Wellington is the crossing point between the North and South Islands, so travellers have long been passing through these parts," the guidebook says. "The likes of Te Papa and Zealandia now stop visitors in their tracks."

The city is described as "edgy yet sociable, colourful yet often dressed in black." It says Wellington is "big on the unexpected and unconventional," adding the city is "one of the coolest little capitals in the world."

Writers from Lonely Planet came to New Zealand, visiting towns and cities all over the country, and noted Auckland, Queenstown and the West Coast among their other favourite destinations. 

Christchurch was noticeably left off Lonely Planet's top 20 places to visit in New Zealand, trumped by Rotorua, Kaikoura and even Waitomo Caves. But the city has been recognised by Lonely Planet's Street Art book for its unique contemporary art. 

Auckland slipped two spots in Lonely Planet's ranking, coming in at number four, after taking second place in the publication's 2016 edition. 

"[Auckland is] regularly rated one of the world's most liveable cities, and while it's never going to challenge NYC or London in the excitement stakes, it's blessed with good beaches, wine regions and a thriving dining, drinking and live music scene," the book says.

New Zealand received 3.7 million visitors between August 2017 and July 2018, according to the Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation, with Auckland receiving 29 percent of all spending.