Whanganui has been named one of New Zealand's top 10 visitor destinations.
The district has come in at eighth place in a poll conducted by Experience Oz, a leading Australian-based travel provider. It's the first time Whanganui has made the top 10.
Visit Whanganui was told a few weeks ago that the district was a finalist in the annual survey of New Zealand, Australian and international tourists.
In descending order, the top 10 are: Fiordland, Queenstown, Taupo, Taranaki, Nelson, Dunedin, Hanmer Springs, Whanganui, Central Otago and Bay of Plenty.
Experience Oz received close to 7000 votes in its month-long survey. Respondents were asked to consider - among other factors - the typical Kiwi nature of the destination, its unique natural highlights, the area's cultural, historic and architectural features, the variety of activities, whether it was over-commercialised, and if it was considered objectively "beautiful".
It said the work of local tourism operators and groups that provided quality imagery played a role in establishing the destination's appeal to online audiences.
Matt Hobbs, the company's New Zealand marketing manager, said the consumer poll was a great opportunity to identify hotspots to visit.
"With Australians representing New Zealand's largest inbound tourism market, these results indicate both their favourite experiences and also what locals believe to be their nation's hidden gems," he said.
The absence of several major cities showed tourists were keen to immerse themselves more in the land and culture of regional New Zealand, and the 10 top destinations showcased the best of them.
Lyn Cheyne, Whanganui and Partners promotion and marketing manager, said Whanganui was gaining in popularity with people realising there was more to the destination.
"A number of them come for a specific experience - an event, the Whanganui River, the arts scene, the heritage and history - and they often stay another day as there is so much to do. And, of course, visitors always comment on what a friendly place we are."
Ms Cheyne said that growth was happening on the back of an event calendar that was going from strength to strength. It included the Boxing Day motorcycle races, the NZ Opera School, the Whanganui Vintage Weekend and Artists Open Studios.
"This doesn't begin to include the sporting facilities and training grounds on offer for tournaments and competitions. We'll continue to build on bringing more people here to experience our little city with a lot of soul.
"And Whanganui is an easy, relaxing place that lets people enjoy time out with family, friends or just on their own."
Visit Whanganui has received a badge certifying its success and this can be used on its site or promotional material.
For more articles from this region, go to Wanganui Chronicle