Beauty is in the eye of the beholder ... and every day we behold the natural beauty of Whanganui.

That river, that mountain, the rugged coastline, the graceful flow of urban into rural ... and then there is the ageless charm of the built city that nestles in between. And the hanging baskets ...

Most of us would agree, the River City is a handsome beast.

But is it New Zealand's most beautiful city?


Maybe not quite ... but it could be.

Certainly that is what our district councillors believe, for - as the Chronicle reported yesterday - they want to have a go at the Keep New Zealand Beautiful awards next year.

Good on them - why not aspire to be the best.

Whanganui has had its years of being looked down on ... at times it had a better shot at winning NZ's "most notorious" title.

But things have changed. The shabby, downtrodden reputation has been eroded, and the inferiority complex has slowly given way to a new confidence.

So, yes - Whanganui could be "the fairest of them all", and we have a few months to tidy ourselves up and add some polish.

As councillor Philippa Baker-Hogan noted when the issue was discussed by the council, there needs to be community buy-in. Not half!

We need those lawns mowed, hedges tidied, fences painted ... and please, please can people stop fly-tipping their rubbish at the beach and into streams.


In the central city, we need stronger floral displays and we need to get the interminable roadworks finished and the army of cones tucked away.

On the topic of the roadworks, will the Keep NZ Beautiful judges give us extra points for the good manners Whanganui drivers are showing as they negotiate the rush-hour logjam?

I have to cope with two of the bigger pinch points - the Anzac Parade roundabout off Dublin St Bridge and the Anzac Parade-City Bridge snarl-up - at the height of get-to-work/drop-off-at-school congestion.

So how pleasing it is to see the courtesy - even among stressed-out motorists - as those from side roads are unfailingly given room to slip into the mainstream of traffic.

Pat yourselves on the back, folks.