Queenstown and Southern Lakes is eighth on Lonely Planet's list of the best regions to visit in 2012.
Queenstown and Southern Lakes is eighth on Lonely Planet's list of the best regions to visit in 2012. Sarah Ivey

NZ among top 10 regions for 2012

QUEENSTOWN and Southern Lakes has been named one of Lonely Planet's top 10 regions to visit next year.

The publisher's seventh-annualBest In Travel book is a collection of top 10-lists covering everything from the best cities to the best-value destinations to visit in the upcoming year.

Queenstown and Southern Lakes is eighth on the list of 'best regions', in the company of gems such as the island of Hvar in Croatia, Canada's Maritime Provinces and coastal Wales.

New Zealand-based Lonely Planet author Sarah Bennett said the inclusion of the South Island region on the list was two-fold.

Queenstown was known internationally as an adventure playground where people could go skiing in the morning and waterskiing in the afternoon, she said, but the area's beauty could also not be discounted.

"I think anyone that's been there knows that the scenery is actually surreal - it's so beautiful it's surreal and we hear that all the time."

Aside from Queenstown, Wanaka and Te Anau were singled out for special mention in the Southern Lakes entry.

Bennett said although Wanaka often felt "a little bit like a poor cousin", it offered a lot of the same charm as Queenstown on a smaller, quieter scale.

It is also the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park, a place Bennett described as "paradise".

"Once you've been to that area, to the Southern Lakes, it could ruin you for travel for the rest of your life."

Tony Everitt, CEO of Destination Queenstown, said featuring in Best in Travel 2012 would bring significant benefits for the region's profile.

"To receive this kind of endorsement by Lonely Planet is priceless for Queenstown and the Southern Lakes as well as New Zealand," he said.

"Lonely Planet is a giant of the travel industry so making it onto their top 10 must-visit regions for 2012 will give our region global recognition and provide inspiration for their readers to visit."

The guide's top country to visit next year is Uganda, a place Bennett said was an "emerging tourist destination".

"People think of Uganda [and] they think of civil war and they think of Idi Amin and those are two reasons not to travel to a country, for sure, but that era is over...

"The actual trouble in Uganda is in very small pockets and very defined areas and for the most part, they're welcoming tourists. They've got the infrastructure but it's still at an early stage."

Bennett said Uganda would particularly appeal to travellers seeking an intrepid safari adventure.

London was named the top city to visit next year and the northeast of the United States was deemed the best-value destination.


Best regions

1. Coastal Wales
2. La Ruta Maya, Central America
3. Northern Kenya
4. Arunachal Pradesh, India 
5. Hvar, Croatia
6. Sicily, Italy
7. Canada's Maritime Provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island)
8. Queenstown and Southern Lakes, New Zealand
9. Borneo, Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia
10. Poitou-Charentes, France

Best cities

1. London, England
2. Muscat, Oman
3. Bengaluru (Bangalore), India
4. Cádiz, Spain
5. Stockholm, Sweden
6. Guimarães, Portugal
7. Santiago, Chile
8. Hong Kong, China
9. Orlando, Florida, USA
10. Darwin, Australia

Best countries

1. Uganda
2. Myanmar
3. Ukraine
4. Jordan
5. Denmark
6. Bhutan
7. Cuba
8. New Caledonia
9. Taiwan
10. Switzerland

>> Read more travel stories.

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