The Top 5 Cities in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific in 2019

Iconic Queenstown cityscape at dusk, New Zealand
Photo: Matteo Colombo/Getty Images

After 23 years atop the regional throne, Sydney has been unseated as readers’ favorite city in Oceania. Granted, the capital of New South Wales didn’t fall far — it’s still No. 2, thanks to its “mix of cultures and cosmopolitan feel,” as one fan described it. Another visitor remarked on the ease of getting around and how many activities could be squeezed into a short time frame: “They have an excellent transportation system as well. We only had three days and took time to ride the ferries, tour the Opera House, see the Rocks, walk the Harbour Bridge.”

Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, Travel + Leisure 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 World's Best Awards 2019

Melbourne (No. 3) and Perth (No. 4) also secured spots on this year’s list by virtue of their genuinely welcoming locals and the ways that recent urban growth has fueled ever-rich culture and culinary scenes. “It has exploded in all good ways,” one reader wrote of Melbourne. Another gushed, “There is nothing that didn’t exceed my expectations.” Even as new hotels come onto the scene in Perth and tourism booms, it’s still “a pleasant city that feels like a small town.”

As dominant as Australia may appear, it didn’t snag every spot: Wellington, New Zealand (No. 5) captured readers’ hearts with its ambience. “It's got such a great vibe that walking around without a plan is nice enough,” wrote one reader. Another praised the way it puts nature at visitors’ fingertips with “bird-watching tours, zip-lining that includes education about the indigenous birds and invasive predators, tree-top walking platforms, and good kayaking.”

So which city took the crown? It’s the least populous of any metropolis on this year’s list, but has some of the most stunning scenery — and plenty of outdoor activities to make the most of it.

5. Wellington, New Zealand

The Beehive Wellington. New Zealand Government Parliament Building
iStockphoto/Getty Images

Score: 80.47

4. Perth, Australia

Cityscape of Perth WA from Elizabeth Quay
Bruce Aspley/Getty Images

Score: 82.10

3. Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne, Australia
David Hannah/Getty Images

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 83.88

2. Sydney, Australia

View of Sydney Harbor from a drone
Getty Images

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 84.92

1. Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand
Paer Svensson/Getty Images

Score: 84.96

Set on a lake in the mountains of New Zealand’s South Island, this petite city punches far above its size in readers’ esteem. “It’s a great place to walk, with loads of restaurants (great seafood) and sights on the harbor,” wrote one visitor. “The views of the mountains were spectacular. We did a wine tour of the area, which was wonderful and covered both large and small vineyards. One of our favorite towns in the country.” The scenery captured a number of respondents — one person called it “the best part of my trip,” while another “would move here if given the chance!”

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2019.

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