Northland and the Bay of Islands have always been at the top of the country, but according to The Lonely Planet they are now one of the top destinations in the Asia Pacific region.

The Lonely Planet's Best in Asia Pacific 2019 named the birthplace of New Zealand as number 3 on the list of ten must-see destinations from the region.

The US-based travel guide praised the "extraordinary surf beaches, myriad islands and forests of giant trees" of Aotearoa as stand-out features in one of the world's most vibrant and much visited tourism markets.

Birthplace of New Zealand: Waitangi and the Bay of Islands were recognised as a top destination for international travellers. Photo / Getty Images
Birthplace of New Zealand: Waitangi and the Bay of Islands were recognised as a top destination for international travellers. Photo / Getty Images

The wild side of Northland's nature marks it as a top destination for International travellers, however it was the area's rich cultural history that the experts enthused about.

Advertisement

From the landing sites in Hokianga to the first European capital in Russell, the guide refers to Northland as "the cradle of the country's culture and history – both for the indigenous Māori people and for the European settlers who followed them."

Highlights picked out by the guide include the Waitangi treaty grounds in the run up to the 180th anniversary and the newly built museum to the 28th Māori Battalion.

History: Soldiers of the 28 Maori Battalion perform a haka in North Africa in 1941. Photo / File
History: Soldiers of the 28 Maori Battalion perform a haka in North Africa in 1941. Photo / File

"Our experts have explored this vast region's highlands islands and everything in between to find the best places to visit this year" said Lonely Planet spokesperson Chris Zeiher.

Zeiher says the Asia Pacific region is a vibrant and increasingly popular choice for tourists, with plenty of options. "Its food delights the senses, its forests and seas teem with life, and its cities fizz with culture and creativity," he said.

However, it was Northland New Zealand's unique blend of natural and cultural history that saw it as a stand-out destination on the list.

Landing grounds: Hokianga Sand Dunes. Photo / Getty Images
Landing grounds: Hokianga Sand Dunes. Photo / Getty Images

Just ahead of Northland, was Shikoku in off-the-beaten-path Japan and the Margaret River in Western Australia which took the top place.

The Lonely Planet guide praised the Margaret River's "Bombay Sapphire" blue coast that leads inland to some of Australia's "slickest wineries, breweries and restaurants lie between tracts of tall-tree forest and kangaroo-dotted farmland."

The Lonely Planet's top 10 in Asia Pacific 2019

1. Margaret River & Southern WA, Australia

Advertisement

West Australian bush, beaches and the best tucker Aus has on offer.

2. Shikoku, Japan
Undiscovered Japan, the cities of Takamatsu and Matsuyama are a throwback to medieval Shogun-era (in the best way possible).

3. Bay of Islands & Northland, New Zealand
Northland and the BOI – the original NZ at its best.

4. Singapore
The blockbuster Asian city that tourists are going crazy for celebrates 200 years.

5. The Cook Islands
15 islands in 15 shades of blue with a world to explore on each.

6. Central Vietnam
Grab a bowl of cao lầu noodles in Hoi An's storied and fragrant alleyways

7. Fiji
Plunge headlong into the eco-tourism destination ahead of the 50th independence celebrations.

8. Palawan, Philippines
new air routes and upgraded roads make it easier than ever to explore the jungle island.

9. Beijing, China
Hop on a tour of the Supercity and join the 9 million as part eco-friendly bike-sharing scheme

10. Cambodia
Dark, historied fields and hydrofoils whisking people to the islands, Cambodia is emerging as a wildlife destination.

Lonely Planet's Best in Asia Pacific 2019 is available online, with details on each destination, at lonelyplanet.com/best-in-asia-pacific.