The Best Cities in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific in 2016

Sydney Australia
Photo: Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

For decades, travelers have made the long journey to Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific for the beautiful weather, gorgeous beaches, and welcoming locals. While the many islands in this part of the world deliver stunning scenery, the cities offer a wealth of cultural and culinary experiences to keep visitors coming back for more. 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 lines, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated cities on their sights/landmarks, culture, food, friendliness, shopping, and overall value. In Wellington, New Zealand, which ranked fourth in the category, Lord of the Rings fans raved about tours that guide visitors throughout the city and point out key locations where the movies were filmed. The local cultural museum was also a hit with many of our readers. No. 2 city Queenstown, meanwhile, is known for throwing a good party. One reader went so far as to call it the “Vegas of the South Pacific.” A number of readers applauded charming Melbourne, the second-highest-rated Australian city, for its public transportation and cleanliness. Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, offers tons of wildlife and hiking. The wine country isn't too bad, either. Sydney, this year’s top destination, had visitors marveling at the major architectural landmarks like the Sydney Opera House, as well as the city’s stunning white-sand beaches. Locals are open and accommodating, and the city is easy to navigate and filled with world-class restaurants, galleries, and fantastic shopping. Little wonder the city saw 33.1 million visitors in 2015; visit before everyone else does.

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No. 5: Hobart, Australia

Hobart Australia
Earl Carter

Score: 82.99

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No. 4: Wellington, New Zealand

Wellington New Zealand
Geoff Lung

Score: 83.16

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No. 3: Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne Australia
Getty Images/Corbis Documentary

Score: 84.03

Get the lowdown on the Paris of the Antipodes with T+L's Melbourne guide.

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No. 2: Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown New Zealand
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Score: 86.13

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No. 1: Sydney, Australia

Sydney Australia
Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

Score: 87.27

You probably know Sydney for its size (it’s the largest city in Australia) as well as icons like the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. But visitors from around fall in love with so much more once they make it to this city by the harbor. Highlights include walks along the water, indulging in some of the country’s best food and wine, and relaxing on one of the beaches sprinkled along the coast. There's plenty of culture too: top-notch museums and art galleries, plus festivals celebrating everything from Chinese New Year to Granny Smith apples.

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