Auckland is a more vibrant city after the Rugby World Cup but public transport is a "mess", says the latest Lonely Planet guide book of New Zealand.
Electronic displays at bus stops "lie" about waiting times, and Auckland Council's Hop Card - which is facing the scrap heap - is "probably not worth your while".
City leaders agree with the harsh words. Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney said the guide should wake up political leaders to invest more in public transport.
"Perhaps when we read this Lonely Planet guide we should take the criticism on the chin and do something about it."
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The 16th edition of the famous guide book said the regeneration of downtown Auckland was the biggest change in the past two years.
The "locus of gastronomic activity" was back in the city centre. Britomart, the Wynyard Quarter and the Auckland Art Gallery were the new highlights.
But it said Hamilton's Hood Street bar and restaurant area left Auckland's Viaduct Harbour "for dead in the boozy fun stakes".
In a chapter entitled the New Zealand Psyche, it said New Zealand was like the little guy at school when they picked rugby teams - "quietly waiting to be noticed, desperately wanting to be liked".