Time to pick the hot tourist gems

By Joanne Carroll

Milford Sound, New Zealand. Photo / Thinkstock
Milford Sound, New Zealand. Photo / Thinkstock

Some hidden New Zealand tourist gems are to be exposed to the scrutiny of the world in a new official list of the nation's 101 must-see attractions.

While the likes of stunning Mitre Peak and awesome Milford Sound will take some toppling from Automobile Association's Top 101, the public now has the chance to vote on which hot new destinations will join them and which tired and stale destinations will miss out.

Have you gamboled through the goblin forest on Mt Taranaki, peered into an old prison in Napier or sniffed out a cheese roll in Dunedin?

These are among the candidates that could make their debut, but for every destination added, an old one must be taken off.

One that may struggle to stay is the Christchurch CBD with its beautiful floral beds and neatly-trimmed lawns damaged or destroyed by earthquake liquefaction since the 2006 list was compiled.

The first five-month survey in 2006 garnered 20,000 votes from the public which resulted in few surprises among the top choices which included Doubtful Sound, Bay of Islands, Fiordland and Abel Tasman National Park.

Back then regional tourism organisations put forward more than 350 nominations. They were whittled down to 101 for the public vote.

This time the public will have a choice of more than 1000 destinations and experiences on the AA website.

The four new categories are: Get active, eat and drink, explore and relax. People can rate as many entries as they like out of 10. Those with the most points will make the new list.

Tourists will never learn one piping-hot secret: the recipe of the cheese roll made by Dunedin's Little Hut Cafe, a new contender for tourism fame. Little Hut Cafe has been making the southern delicacy since 1940. Manager Daphne Wells said she was stoked to be on the list.

"It's surprising what a mention can do. We had a woman from a Japanese magazine do a write-up and a month after that we had heaps of Japanese people coming in." Wells said the roll was a slice of bread spread with a cheese mixture, rolled up and toasted. "I can't tell you what our secret is. You'll have to come here and try to work that out yourself."

AA spokeswoman Rebecca Cherry said the list was aimed at championing must-visit features of domestic tourism. "We like to encourage rivalry between the regions so people can vote to make their region feature more prominently in the national list but we will also release regional must-do lists."

- Herald on Sunday

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