The Best Cities in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific in 2018

“Please go there!” This comment from a voter sums up how T+L readers feel about Sydney, the city they’ve consistently chosen as the best in Australia for the past 23 years. Other readers called out the outstanding beaches close to the city center and the friendly people who take justifiable pride in their metropolis. The compact and accessible neighborhoods, the inventive restaurant culture, and the stunning architecture — including, of course, the iconic Opera House — all made an impression. And for one reader, a visit to Sydney gave her the chance to cross a major item off her bucket list: “I got to take a selfie with a koala, and my life was complete.” Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe— to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated cities on their sights and landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping, and overall value. Related: The 2018 World's Best Awards Of course, Sydney isn’t the only antipodean city to shine. Melbourne has many of the same assets as its sibling, including intriguing architecture, world-class dining, and proximity to the shore. But it also has a hip, scrappy edge, including a vibrant street-art presence. “I loved Melbourne, especially the people,” said one reader. “I stopped someone on the street to ask for directions and spent 15 minutes talking with them.” New Zealand continues to intrigue travelers who’ve swooned over its cinematic natural beauty in The Lord of the Rings and A Wrinkle in Time. Queenstown, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, is a year-round haven for adventure lovers, with opportunities for skiing, jet boating, ziplining, and bungee jumping. Auckland is the largest city in this compact country, as well as one of its most multicultural. The capital city of Wellington is also New Zealand’s creative hub, with a buzzing food scene, craft breweries, and interesting museums such as Te Papa, home to fossils, contemporary art, and Maori cultural artifacts. “There are many little suburbs and districts to experience,” wrote in one reader. Read on to see how all these remarkable cities scored.

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5. Wellington, New Zealand

Wellington, New Zealand
Robert Chang/Getty Images

Score: 79.21

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4. Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand
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Score: 80.17

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3. Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand
Getty Images

Score: 82.85

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2. Melbourne

Melbourne, Australia
Getty Images

Score: 83.47

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1. Sydney

Sydney, Australia
Jonah Photos/Getty Images

Score: 85.25

“Make sure you get in the water!” wrote one reader about Australia’s top city. Sydney abounds with opportunities to do this, whether it’s from the comfort of a harbor cruise or amid the busy energy of Bondi Beach. But don’t overlook what’s on land. “I spend a long weekend in Sydney at least once a year,” commented one voter. “I love to run in the Botanic Garden, dine at Sydney Cove Oyster Bar, attend an event at the opera, and visit museums. Usually I head out to Shelly Beach for lunch and a swim. Certainly Sydney offers a lot more than my usual haunts.”

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2018.

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