New Zealand’s biggest city might be locked down and battling population decline, but Auckland has been named by Lonely Planet as the world’s top city to visit in 2022.

The City of Sails was crowned on the same day it entered an 11th week of COVID-19 lockdown, one of the world’s longest active streaks.

Lonely Planet’s Chris Zeiher said Auckland had been recognised for “its blossoming cultural scene where the spotlight is on local creativity”.

Auckland’s public venues – including museums, galleries and theatres – are closed as it battles NZs worst outbreak of the pandemic.

Still, restrictions are due to lessen over the coming months, and Mr Zeiher said Australians were in prime position to “discover even more about this great city”.

“Many may not know that within the city’s boundaries there are 53 volcanoes, more than 50 islands, three wine regions and numerous beaches,” he said.

COVID-19 restrictions and other factors led to Auckland’s population decreasing – for the first time ever according to Stats NZ – in the year ending to June.

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Auckland was also named as the world’s most liveable city by The Economist for 2021, a ranking many locals scoffed at given soaring house prices.

Adelaide (third), Wellington (equal fourth), Perth (sixth), Melbourne (equal eighth) and Brisbane (10th) also featured in the top 10.

The Cook Islands, a semi-autonomous nation in the Pacific with close ties to NZ has also been named the number one country to visit in 2022.

Australia is also included: Queensland’s Scenic Rim, found inland from the Gold Coast, has been named the eighth-top region to visit.

“It’s such an untouched and diverse eco-based Australian destination … from the amazing food and wine to the incredible rainforest and bush walks and memorable places to stay, this is an unexpected pocket of Australia that has it all,” Mr Zeiher said.

Iceland’s remote Westfjords was named the top region, ahead of West Virginia in the USA.

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