Nice vibe, poor transport says Lonely Planet
Auckland was left "vibrant" in the wake of the Rugby World Cup though its public transport system is a "mess" according to the latest edition of influential travel guide Lonely Planet.
The 16th edition of Lonely Planet: New Zealand released today pays tribute to the country's resilience after a tough two years in which the nation endured the Christchurch earthquakes, the Pike river coal mine disaster and the sinking of the Rena off the Tauranga coast.
The entry on Auckland mentions the creation of the super-city and says in 2011 "the newly minted metropolis was given a buff and shine to prepare it for hosting the Rugby World Cup".
"The waterfront was redeveloped, the art gallery and zoo were given a makeover, and a swag of new restaurants and bars popped up - leaving a much more vibrant city in the cup's wake."
Lonely Planet is not known for puff pieces though and it lambasts the city's bus and rail network as "a mess".
Auckland Council's new Hop smartcard is also "probably not worth your while", the guide says.
The city did, though, fare well in the list of the top dozen new or renovated attractions in New Zealand.
The authors praised the new Auckland Art Gallery, the Wallace Arts Centre and Wynyard Quarter.
The guide found Hamilton "surprisingly buzzy", said Whangarei was "hardly NZ's most thrilling city" and Palmerston North had an "open-minded, rurally bookish vibe".
Wellington comes in for effusive praise with the capital described as "compact and vibrant, buoyed by a surprising number of museums, theatres, galleries and boutiques".
"A cocktail and caffeine-fuelled hospitality scene fizzes and pops among the throng."