New Zealand Public Fed a Diet of Constant Propaganda: Lonely Planet’s 500 Best Places to Visit


Temples of Ankar

The Temples of Angkor, surprisingly not in New Zealand

In today’s press there’s an excellent example of New Zealand’s appetite for pro-NZ propaganda.

The Lonely Planet has published a worldwide list of the 500 best places to visit. But the spin put on it by the NZ media would have you think that NZ was the best of all of them,

First, read this article in the NZ Herald, headed: World’s best places to visit: NZ scores 9 spots in Lonely Planet’s list.

Note that’s only 9, Australia scored 10 and the combined efforts of the UK got it 34 sites. Yet the Herald article doesn’t tell you that. It is astonishingly parochial, self serving and jingoistic. It is all about NZ.

Nine New Zealand destinations have made travel guide Lonely Planet’s list of the “500 best places in the world”. Our number one site, Fiordland National Park, is ranked number 17.

Lonely Planet’s “ultimate travel list” comes out today and is billed as “the 500 most thrilling, memorable and interesting places in the world – ranked in order of brilliance…

Other New Zealand sights are: Abel Tasman National Park, number 35; Franz Josef and Fox Glacier, 81; Lake Wanaka, 94; Stewart Island, 125; Bay of Islands, 130; Whakarewarewa, 276; Waitomo Caves, 280; and Te Papa, 285… read more

New Zealand’s “number one site,” Fiordland, is ranked 17th.   The report makes a brief reference in passing to just the five countries that topped the bill, while pasting images of New Zealand’s sites around them. Look closely, there are no overseas images at all – they’re all from New Zealand.

bragging rights

Only 9 sites in NZ, but the Herald manages to ignore images from all of the other 491 sites  (click to enlarge)

If that’s all too much like pandering to New Zealand’s ingrained ‘Truman Show’ mentality for your taste…

The Truman show subtext was a commentary about Kiwi life

The Truman show’s subtext was a commentary about Kiwi life

…try some of these reports from other countries for balance…(all links will open in new window/tab).

But first, here’s the list of the top 20 countries because you’re unlikely to see it  published in New Zealand. Lists like this will only inflame Kiwis’ desire to leave, or worse still – make them realise that NZ isn’t all that special, or that (other than Te Papa, ranked 285) none of its cultural assets made the cut.

Lonely Planet bucket list

Top 20 Countries, NZ gets a single mention.

Australia scores 10 spots on Lonely Planet’s ultimate travelist  (ABC, Australia)


The ABC wasn’t afraid to show pictures of overseas attractions

Ten of the world’s all-time best places to visit are in Australia, according to Lonely Planet, with Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef taking second place in the global travel authority’s Ultimate Travelist of the 500 of the best places to visit.”

The ABC report then goes on to publish pictures of the world’s top ten sites, starting with the Temples of Angkor in Cambodia, down to Aya Sofya in Turkey. Lastly, it lists “the best of the rest in Australia.” with no images at all.

In an article brimming with confidence and diversity, here’s how the UK’s Daily Mail reported the Lonely Planet’s list…

Daily mail

The Daily Mail shows overseas sites too

Finally, the definitive bucket list: The Temples of Angkor, Great Barrier Reef and Machu Picchu lead the places you MUST see, say Lonely Planet’s adventure experts (Daily Mail, UK)

The Temples of Angkor, Great Barrier Reef and Machu Picchu have been named as the top-three global must-see spots, according to exploration experts. In Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel list, the next three places were taken up by the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal and the Grand Canyon National Park, with a range of other UNESCO World Heritage Sites following closely behind.

Sandwiched between images of the Taj Mahal and Great Barrier Reef, the Daily Mail told its readers this…

Of the top places, 34 came from the UK and Northern Ireland, including the Lake District, Snowdonia in Wales and Edinburgh Castle. The British Museum, founded in 1753, featured in the top 20 behind Tikal in Guatemala and was named ‘the greatest treasure house of Europe.’ The free attraction includes around eight million artefacts that date back millions of years and was visited by over six million people last year.

The Scotsman told its readers that there were 11 Scottish gems among world’s top 500 places, which for a country the size of Scotland, puts New Zealand’s paltry 9 into proportion. It says that England has 12 places listed, Wales has 7, Ireland gets 4 and there’s 2 in Northern Ireland.

Scotland's gemsSpot the trend? have any other examples of biased reporting in New Zealand? tell us about them.

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The Truman Show – Early screenplay script, by New Zealand author Andrew M Niccol

     FADE IN

     A white title appears on a black screen.

                      "One doesn't discover new lands
                      without consenting to lose sight
                      of the shore for a very long time."

                                     Andre Gide

     The title fades off, replaced by a second title.

                      "We're all in this alone."

                                     Lily Tomlin

read on









2 thoughts on “New Zealand Public Fed a Diet of Constant Propaganda: Lonely Planet’s 500 Best Places to Visit

  1. Te Papa in the list – someone’s having a massive joke at everyone else’s expense.

    Always found the rough guides to give a more honest appraisal of the country in question – Lonely Planet always seemed like it had some input from the local tourist office.

  2. Well at least the NZ Herald actually reported the Great Barrier Reef at #2. I wonder if there will be another round of Oz-bashing.

    BTW, In my opinion Iguazu is more impressive than Machu Picchu.

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