Travel + Leisure Readers' 10 Favorite Cities and Islands in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific of 2024

Travel + Leisure Readers' 10 Favorite Cities and Islands in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific of 2024

T+L readers love to experience food, adventure, and culture down under. These are the top destinations, broken out by cities and islands, in the 2024 “World’s Best Awards” survey.

Traveling to Oceania is a commitment: it typically takes around a day to fly there from the U.S., there’s a massive time-zone change, and the price tag is not minor. Consequently, the region is a trip of a lifetime for many, with travelers making the most out of the journey to experience the show-stopping natural beauty, vibrant cities, some of the oldest cultures on the planet, heart-pumping adventures, and the world’s largest coral reef. From Australia to New Zealand to Fiji to French Polynesia, the Oceania region is filled with places to explore.

How Voting Works

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 hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Over 186,000 T+L readers completed the 2024 survey. A total of more than 700,000 votes were cast across over 8,700 properties (hotels, cities, cruise lines, etc.).

Cities were specifically rated on the criteria below:

  • Sights/landmarks

  • Culture

  • Food

  • Friendliness

  • Shopping

  • Value

Islands were specifically rated on the criteria below:

  • Natural attractions/beaches

  • Activities/sights

  • Restaurants/food

  • People/friendliness

  • Value

For each characteristic, respondents could choose a rating of excellent, above average, average, below average, or poor. The final scores are averages of these responses.

<p>Courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland</p>

Courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland

What Readers Loved About Cities in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific

Travel + Leisure readers just can’t get enough of Oz, as evidenced by Australia nabbing three spots on this year’s list. After claiming the top spot last year, the quirky Hobart, on the island of Tasmania, came in at No. 5 this year, thanks to its “very good restaurants, nice hotels, [and] easy downtown to get around,” as one voter said. In the second slot is Melbourne, which readers seem to love for its excellent culinary and shopping scene. “The little alleys with stores and shops are gems,” raved one reader. “Federal square and the river and parks beyond are gorgeous amenities.” Meanwhile, two New Zealand cities made the list, in third and fourth place: the adventure hub of Queenstown and the country’s largest city, Auckland.

Want to know which metropolis claimed the No. 1 spot? Keep reading to find out.

World's Best Awards 2024

City Winner


<p>Irjaliina Paavonpera/Travel + Leisure</p>

Irjaliina Paavonpera/Travel + Leisure

This Aussie city is perpetually on the list, often in the No. 1 spot. This year, the cosmopolitan center reclaims top billing because, as one reader puts it, “Sydney is one of those towns you will never forget.” Its 100-plus gorgeous beaches and the iconic coastal walks between many of them stick with you, as does the outstanding restaurant and bar scene, the stellar museums and galleries, and the picturesque skyline dotted with architectural landmarks. The exceptional weather, friendly locals, and easy-to-navigate streets and waterways don’t hurt either. To put it plainly, as one voter did, Sydney is “just one of the best cities in the world.”

"Sydney is one of those towns you will never forget."

City Full List

1. Sydney, Australia

Reader Score: 87.30

2. Melbourne, Australia

Reader Score: 86.62

3. Queenstown, New Zealand

Reader Score: 85.29

4. Auckland, New Zealand

Reader Score: 84.48

5. Hobart, Australia

Reader Score: 84.24

What Readers Loved About Islands in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific

The islands of the South Pacific, Australia, and New Zealand are often listed among the most beautiful in the world, thanks to baby-powder-sand beaches, pristine water, and captivating cultures. The islands of French Polynesia seem to fit these to a T, and readers couldn’t resist giving three slots to the island nation again: Moorea, Bora-Bora, and Tahiti claimed the third, fourth, and fifth spots on the list this year, respectively.

“The most spectacular display of nature's beauty,” gushed one voter about Bora-Bora. “The air is warm and sweet and the colors are breathtaking.” Another pointed out: “The island has managed to create lush resorts, while at the same time, staying completely away from a feeling of commercialism.”

Moorea garnered similar praise. “Moorea was sensational and we would go back in a heartbeat,” shared a reader. “It was lush and small and lovely and non-commercial and the water and snorkeling was fantastic.”

Still, no place can beat the snorkeling at our winner, the Great Barrier Reef Islands. Keep reading to find out why it’s No. 1.

Islands Winner

Great Barrier Reef Islands

<p>Courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland</p>

Courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland

Perpetual listmakers, the Great Barrier Reef Islands have claimed the top spot for the second year in a row. The group of about 980 islands surrounds the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the world’s largest reef, which is home to about 3,000 individual reefs housing more than 600 coral species and over 2,000 marine and mammal species. In short: You’re sure to see a veritable wonderland of sea life. From the luxury and wellness resorts of Hamilton Island and the family-friendly Fitzroy Island to the iconic Lizard Island and the off-grid Heron Island, accommodation options for visitors are endless. And for those seeking true privacy and luxury, Hayman Island, home to the honeymooner favorite Intercontinental Hayman Island Resort, is an ideal home base to explore the area’s vibrant natural beauty and vast underwater worlds.

Islands Full List

1. Great Barrier Reef Islands, Australia

Reader Score: 90.99

2. Fiji Islands, Fiji

Reader Score: 90.56

3. Moorea, French Polynesia

Reader Score: 89.70

4. Bora-Bora, French Polynesia

Reader Score: 88.00

5. Tahiti, French Polynesia

Reader Score: 83.00

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