Auckland has been rated one of the world's top 10 cities to visit by travel bible Lonely Planet.
The city, which attracts 1.8 million foreign visitors a year, sits alongside iconic places including Paris, Zurich, Shanghai and Vancouver in the ninth annual Best in Travel guide, published today. The book highlights the best trends, destinations, journeys and experiences for the upcoming year.
Auckland was praised for its newly revitalised waterfront districts such as the Wynyard Quarter, and shopping and dining precincts such as the City Works Depot and Britomart.
Also singled out are black-sand beaches on the west coast, the Waitakere Ranges, Rangitoto Island, Waiheke Island, the 77km Hillary Trail, the SkyWalk atop Auckland's Sky Tower and the refurbished Auckland Art Gallery.
"Auckland is often overlooked by travellers eager to head for the stellar alpine and lake landscapes further south, but 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 book says.
Auckland's many festivals and events, vibrant Maori and Pacific culture and impressive line-up of major sporting events also got a mention.
The only criticisms of the city of 1.4 million people are the traffic and the "inconsistent (but always entertaining) form of the Warriors".
The Top 10 Cities were independently nominated by more than 500 authors and staff of Lonely Planet, the largest travel guide book publisher in the world.
The entry is written by Brett Atkinson, who is based in Auckland but has visited more than 70 countries and had stories published on more than 45.
He has written several Lonely Planet country guides, including for Sri Lanka, Thailand and Tasmania.
Auckland marketing expert Graham McGregor said such an award from a brand such as Lonely Planet would do wonders for tourism.
"Any time somebody who's not you says you're good, that's much better than you saying you're good. You have someone ... endorsing you, saying you're the tenth best city in the world to travel to; that's a great feather in the cap and the council should definitely use that in their marketing."
The book labels restaurants Ortolana, Cafe Hanoi and Mexico Food & Liquor as trendsetters, while Al Brown's Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar is a "true Auckland experience".
The owner of Vietnamese restaurant Cafe Hanoi, Tony McGeorge, said: "Lonely Planet is an extremely high-profile publication and I would think they have significant impact on the way in which people choose a place to go.
"It's a nice thing to hear. I think Auckland is becoming a far more tourist-orientated city and people are seeing Auckland as a destination in its own right as opposed to a gateway to the wider New Zealand areas."
The Mayor of Auckland, Len Brown, said the accolade for the city was well deserved.
"The work we are doing to make Auckland a fabulous place to live and visit is paying off and putting Auckland on the map."
Brett O'Riley, chief executive of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed), said the recognition added weight to the city's marketing efforts to attract domestic and international visitors.
Ateed aims to double the contribution from the visitor economy to $6 billion by 2021.
To coincide with the Lonely Planet accolade, Ateed posted a YouTube clip featuring comments from proud Aucklanders, including Simon Gault, Carol Hirschfeld, Kerre McIvor, Sir John Kirwan and Jeremy Corbett.
Lonely Planet's Asia Pacific sales and marketing director, Chris Zeiher, said Auckland's inclusion in the list was a testament to the sustained reinvention of the harbourside city.
It follows several other destination accolades in the past year, including Lonely Planet's current New Zealand guide labelling the Hauraki Gulf and its islands and the city the top two New Zealand experiences.
The other cities in the list
1. Paris, France
Population: 2.26 million
Foreign visitors a year: 8.7 million
What Lonely Planet says: With a push to reduce the cars clogging one of Europe's most congested cities, Paris has been reborn. Socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoe has created more pedestrian-friendly areas, particularly along the riverbanks. Also revitalising the French capital are a gold "flying carpet" in the Louvre's new Islamic art galleries courtyard and nine new bells replicating the original medieval chimes that ring out from Notre Dame.
2. Trinidad, Cuba
Currency: Cuban peso
Foreign visitors a year: 700,000
What Lonely Planet says: Described as a "time-trapped" city, Trinidad is "bulging with the best of architectural and decorative wealth from the 19th century". Next year, the city will celebrate its 500-year anniversary with a series of events. The book describes dancing lessons at Casa de la Cultura and Teatro Brunet as well as the tumbling waterfalls of Topes de Collantes in the Escambray Mountains as "life-changing experiences".
3. Cape Town, South Africa
Population: 3.74 million
Foreign visitors a year: 1.3 million
Language: English, Afrikaans, Xhosa
What Lonely Planet says: Cape Town next year takes on the title of World Design Capital for 12 months. "Expect sculpture-lined green spaces, sustainable projects that are more than just a pretty face, and further regeneration of former industrial districts such as Woodstock and The Fringe, now the stamping ground of hipster shoppers and gourmands in search of rustic lunches and that perfect cup of coffee."
4. Riga, Latvia
Population: 1.1 million
Foreign visitors a year: 836,000
Language: Latvian, Russian
What Lonely Planet says: With two decades of freedom under its belt, Riga is "reclaiming its rightful title as the cosmopolitan cornerstone of the Baltic", the book says. "Hipster-chic" cafes have spread like wildfire throughout the city centre, with pork-and-potato dinners swapped for "savvy new-Nordic-inspired dishes". Hundreds of crumbling facades are being restored to their "brilliant, art nouveau lustre". In July, Riga will play host to the World Choir Games.
5. Zurich, Switzerland
Currency: Swiss franc
Foreign visitors a year: 3.2 million
Language: German, French, Italian
What Lonely Planet says: Fancy seeing Usain Bolt, Mo Farah and other athletes break a string of records? Head to Zurich, which is host to the European athletics championships next year, for the first time in 60 years. Locals are "revelling in the opportunity to show the world that there's more to their city than bankers and melted cheese". Lonely Planet says the city "is awash with fine-dining restaurants and bijou cafes".
6. Shanghai, China
Population: 23.5 million
Foreign visitors a year: 8.2 million
What Lonely Planet says: Next year promises more innovation for Shanghai. The new 59km metro system that runs through the city will have 16 lines opening. It will be the third-longest network in the world. The 121-storey Shanghai Tower will be the tallest building in China and the second-tallest in the world. It will also house the highest hotel in the world. Goldfish tattoos done with Chinese characters that supposedly bring good fortune are a recent fad.
7. Vancouver, Canada
Population: 2.2 million
Currency: Canadian dollar
Foreign visitors a year: 3.1 million
What Lonely Planet says: Visitors will appreciate the "big-city-look/small-town-vibe" the moment they arrive at the airport, the book says. A "hotchpotch of office towers and hastily planned condos" compete for some of the world's most expensive views, which has earned Vancouver the nickname the City of Glass. If you can visit in the spring or autumn, you might nab a bargain, otherwise expect to pay premium prices.
8. Chicago, USA
Population: 2.7 million
Currency: US dollar
Foreign visitors a year:1.4 million
What Lonely Planet says: It's a year of birthdays for Chicago in 2014. Get immersed in true American culture with a Cubs game at baseball park Wrigley Field. The venue celebrates its 100th birthday. Or the Second City club, reaching 55, will be a blast. The club claims to have launched the improv comedy genre, along with the careers of Bill Murray, Stephen Colbert and Tina Fey. Summer is full of festivals, with Blues Fest, Lollapalooza and Pitchfork.
9. Adelaide, Australia
Population: 1.26 million
Currency: Australian dollar
Foreign visitors a year: 332,000
What Lonely Planet says: Adelaide's food scene is a delicious diverse mix, with Leigh St's Udaberri, a tapas bar that draws an eclectic crowd, and the Asian-inspired Gouger St and the Mediterranean-influenced Rundle St. "Parklets" scattered around the city - part garden, part bench seating - are a recent fad. Adelaide's beaches are one of the country's best-kept secrets. "Henley and Grange Beaches are perfect family-friendly examples".
Why we love this city
Sir John Kirwan
Coach of Auckland-based Blues
"You've got this contrast - you can be drinking coffee in the city and 25 minutes later, you're in the forest, you're at the beach.
"You've got to come down to this beautiful city and find out for yourself why Auckland is one of the greatest cities in the world."
"I love Auckland because it's compact, yet cosmopolitan. There are beautiful parks, great places to eat. I can't imagine living anywhere else. Lonely Planet, best in travel - exactly what Auckland deserves."
7 Days host
"You've got a bit of volcano action so there's a little bit of danger. For me, I'd say it's the number of ATMs. When you come to Auckland, as I'm sure you will, look me up, we'll have a tea and a scone.
"Catch yourself lunch, a little bit of snapper, yummy."
MasterChef judge and restaurateur
"Hallelujah for Auckland ... I mean, Auckland is surrounded by water ... the vineyards, islands. While you're here, be damned sure you get out on a boat.
"This city is awesome."
"Well look at it, it's got absolutely everything. We're a beautiful, multicultural city that's welcoming of everybody.
"Come and visit Auckland and see one of the world's top-10 cities."
Source: Ateed-YouTube video