The Tutukaka Coast is one of the top three coastlines in the world, according to the prestigious National Geographic Traveler.

The coastline was named equal second best with the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales and pipped for the top spot by the remote, austere Avalon coast on Canada's Newfoundland.

Local tourism operators say money could not buy the kudos given Tutukaka Coast by the magazine's finding.

New Whangarei District Council member Jeroen Jongejans - co-owner and founder of award winning Dive! Tutukaka, chairman of the Tourism Development Group and Northland Conservation Board member - said there was no doubt it would benefit the district.

"The biggest message to take from Traveler's high ranking is its confidence in the sustainability of this destination," Mr Jongejans said.

Further development must not impact negatively on ecological, scenic and cultural values, and must built on relationships between iwi and business that created jobs, he said.

"We need everyone to be more aware of the jewel we have and the potential to create an exciting and sustainable economy based on it."

In their summaries, several Traveler panelists expressed concern about the cultural status given to or demanded by iwi.

"Physical and environmental heritage is likely to stay intact. I worry for the cultural more. Early Maori fortified villages or 'pa' should receive more conservation attention," wrote one.

The ranking should lure more domestic and international visitors, Mr Jongejans said. At present 75 per cent of tourists to New Zealand arrive in Auckland but only 17 per cent come to Northland.

Great Barrier Island was rated in 15th place by Traveler, and was the only other New Zealand location on the list of 99.

Traveler editor Jonathan B. Tourtellot said it was "not a popularity contest".