Lonely Planet's love affair with Wellington continues to blossom with the best-selling travel guide again crooning over the capital's charms.
After last year declaring Wellington the "coolest little capital in the world" Lonely Planet's 16th New Zealand edition praises the city's "compact and vibrant" CBD for its artsy mix of theatres, galleries, boutiques, museums and a "cocktail and caffeine fuelled hospitality scene" that fairly "fizzes and pops among the throng".
It seems Wellington is not only charming, but also easy on the eye: "It's lovely to look at, draped around bushy hillsides encircling a magnificent harbour," one of the guide's five authors wrote.
Wellington's seismic susceptibility rates a mention, while CBD traffic comes with a helpful warning for those who remember 1980s television - "negotiating the inner-city one-way system is like the Krypton Factor on acid".
Hamilton was "surprisingly buzzy" and a "good place to plot a pub crawl", New Plymouth boasted "a bubbling arts scene, some fab cafes and a rootsy, outdoorsy focus", Palmerston North was "a town of two peoples: tough-talkin' country fast-foodies in hotted-up cars and caffeinated Massey University literati", and Wanganui was "a raggedy historic town . . . with rafts of casual Huck Finn sensibility".
However, the authors did vent some spleen on our two most far-flung municipalities, - Southland's capital elicited the following barb : "Flat and suburban, with endlessly treeless streets, Invercargill won't enthral you if you came here via the Catlins or Fiordland."
Meanwhile, there was mixed approval for Whangarei. "Hardly New Zealand's most thrilling city but you may be pleasantly surprised by the thriving artistic community and the interesting selection of cafes and bars."
Hyped up on Wellington and its coffee
Yes, it is windy, but the occasional gust is not enough to dampen Wellington's charms for tourists - as visiting Americans Michelle Kozminski, Molly O'Malley and Nicole Ensz proved while exploring Mt Victoria yesterday.
Tourists soaking up the spring sunshine and view from Mt Victoria Lookout agreed with the guidebook's sentiments.
US exchange student Molly O'Malley, 20, from Boston, described herself as loving the cafe scene and, as a coffee drinker, said she found the coffee "fantastic".
She was loving her time in the city.
"If I was coming back I'd study in Wellington, rather than Auckland," she said.
The "great shopping", Te Papa and the Botanic Gardens were highlights - and even the weather was pretty good.
"It's windy, but it's not too bad."
Twenty-one year-old Nicole Ensz, from South Dakota, said the architecture and the way sculptures were displayed around the city was a highlight.
"It's just really creative and well designed."
The pair were heading back to Auckland and Dunedin this morning. However, they had planned dinner out and one last harbour stroll to complete the weekend.