Wellington has snagged the title of New Zealand's best destination in Lonely Planet's latest tourism guidebook.

Seven writers navigated the country for the nation's top 20 destinations, branding Wellington as "one of the coolest little capitals in the world".

Noted for its art-house cinemas, nightlife and live music settings, the windy city was described as "edgy yet sociable, colourful yet often dressed in black".

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

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While South Island destinations such as Kaikoura ranked in fifth place and Milford Sound and Queenstown came in at a close seventh and eighth, Christchurch did not receive any recognition.

In 2017, the Garden City was ranked the global street art capital in the Lonely Planet Street Art Book.

But the 2018 Lonely Planet Travel Guide writes, "Scaffolding and cones will be part of Christchurch's landscape for a while yet".

Kaikoura was also recently named at number 7 in the 500 top food experiences in the world, listed in Lonely Planet's Ultimate Eatlist.

Tongariro snatched the title of second-best New Zealand destination — the spot which Auckland had secured in the 2016 edition.

Bumping the City of Sails down to fourth place in the Top 20, the book recognises that Auckland is "regularly rated one of the world's most livable cities".

"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 Garden City's street art was lauded by Lonely Planet, but its 2018 guide says 'Scaffolding and cones will be part of Christchurch's landscape for a while yet'. Photo / Getty Images
The Garden City's street art was lauded by Lonely Planet, but its 2018 guide says 'Scaffolding and cones will be part of Christchurch's landscape for a while yet'. Photo / Getty Images

Despite the rating drop, figures from the Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation suggest 29 per cent of all tourist spending between August 2017 and July 2018 was spent in Auckland, compared to Wellington which received just 9 per cent of the market share.