Wellington named the top destination in New Zealand by Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet has named Wellington as the best destination in New Zealand, labelling the city "one of the coolest little capitals in the World".

Christchurch was left out of the country’s top 20 destinations after seven writers visited the country as part of research.

The capital was praised for its art-house cinemas and live music.

"Edgy yet sociable, colourful yet often dressed in black. Wellington is big on the unexpected and unconventional,” the book says.

"One of the coolest little capitals in the World, windy Wellington lives up to the hype."

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester told Stuff the city’s ranking was "brilliant".

"Every visitor to Wellington, and those returning after an absence, are gobsmacked by the change and I'm glad more people are getting the same buzz,” he said.

Auckland was rated fourth in the list, dropping two places from the previous edition in 2016.

"(Auckland is) regularly rated one of the world's most livable cities, and 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," Lonely Planet said.

Although it left Christchurch out of the top 20, the book said the Garden City was a vibrant city but says "scaffolding and cones will be part of Christchurch's landscape for a while yet."

LONELY PLANET'S TOP 20 PLACES TO VISIT IN NEW ZEALAND:

Wellington

Tongariro

Waiheke Island and the Hauraki Gulf

Auckland

Kaikoura

Bay of Islands

Milford Sound

Queenstown

Rotorua

Maori Culture

The West Coast

Heaphy Track

Central Otago

Rugby

Abel Tasman National Park

Waitomo Caves

Skiing and Snowboarding

Akaroa and Banks Peninsula

TranzAlpine Railway

Otago Peninsula

View from Mount Victoria into the bay of Wellington (capital city of New Zealand)
Source: istock.com