Lonely Planet names New Zealand among top countries to travel to in 2018
Lonely Planet has named New Zealand as one of the top countries to travel to in 2018, describing it as a “place where the planet’s pulse pumps close to its scarred skin”.
New Zealand has come in at number five on the list of the top 10 countries to travel to next year, trailing the likes of Chile and South Korea but ahead of Malta, Georgia, Mauritius, China and South Africa. NZ was last named in Lonely Planet’s top countries in 2010 when it came in at number seven.
The popular travel guide’s Best in Travel 2018 yearbook touted New Zealand as a haven for the adventurous, saying that “long before it was retrofitted to resemble Middle Earth, NZ began actively attracting adventure seekers”.
The Great Walk under construction in Paparoa National Park in memory of those who died in the 2010 Pike River Mine disaster was singled out as a future highlight.
It “will form a magnificent multi-day trail through the South Island’s wild and wonderful west coast” when complete, according to the book. In the meantime, “hikers can get a taster of the walk’s dramatic scenery on four existing trails”.
Visitors with two weeks to spend in New Zealand were encouraged “to enjoy the urban scene in Auckland” before hitting “unique” Hot Water Beach, checking out the “bubbly mud in sulphur-scented Rotorua” and getting a taste of the country’s nine existing Great Walks on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. From Wellington, travelers were advised to catch the Interislander to Nelson and explore Abel Tasman’s beaches before driving “super-scenic Route 6” and spending the night in Ces Clarke Hut. A loop around Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park and drive through Haast Pass to Queenstown marked the recommended grand finale.
Now in its 13th year, the yearbook is aimed at showcasing destinations which offer travelers new things to see and do, have something special happening in the year ahead or its contributors consider overlooked or underrated.
“But the big factor is that x- or wow-factor that propels it to the top of people’s lists of places they want to go,” said Lonely Planet spokesman Chris Zeiher.
Tourism NZ chief executive Stephen England-Hall said “Given the rapid growth in global tourism destinations, it is a real achievement to see New Zealand rated as one of the top five countries in the world by Lonely Planet. The recognition of the new Great Walk on the West Coast of the South Island is particularly satisfying as it is one more way we can spread the benefits of tourism across the country.”
Chile was named the top country to visit in 2018 in part because it will be celebrating 200 years since the signing of its Declaration of Independence and there will be a lot happening to commemorate it, he said.
South Korea has come in at number two which Zeiher acknowledged is “probably a little bit controversial” but merited given it will be hosting the Winter Olympics in February.
Portugal, which has taken out the third spot, has finally “come out of Spain’s shadow” and offers “fantastic value for money”, he said.
Seville, Spain; Detroit, USA; Canberra, Australia; Hamburg, Germany and Kaohsiung, Taiwan are among the top 10 cities to visit in 2018.
The top 10 regions included Belfast and the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland; Alaska, USA; the Julian Alps, Slovenia; Langeudoc-Roussillon, France and Kii Peninsula, Japan.
Zeiher said he doesn’t think there’s been a year when New Zealand hasn’t made it into the yearbook.
The diverse scenery and experiences on offer are among the key factor he thinks ensures it “always bubbles up in top-10 lists of places people want to go.
“From tip to toe there are unique experiences to be had: From the Bay of Islands where you can have beautiful, scenic island-hopping experiences to Milford Sound and its dramatic glaciers.”
Zeiher is particularly partial to Waiheke Island, which was included in Lonely’s Planet’s top 10 regions to visit in 2016, and Cape Reinga, which he discovered on a recent trip for a friend’s wedding and found “absolutely glorious”.
He also thinks the road trips on offer in NZ are “extraordinary” and that it offers “a lot of bang for your buck” in general.
Taranaki was named as one of the best regions to in the world visit in 2017, while the West Coast has also featured.
In terms of travel trends for 2018, Zeiher said we should see a big upswing in vegan and vegetarian and cross-generational travel.
“People are wanting to discover great vegan and vegetarian options around the world and cross-generational travel is a massive trend. People are choosing more and more often to travel in large groups, with the kids, parents and grandparents all going on an adventure – whether it be a cruise, safari or something else – together.”