Dunedin has been crowned New Zealand's most beautiful city for 2018 at the environmentally focused KNZB (Keep New Zealand Beautiful) gala dinner in Auckland tonight.

The Otago capital beat out strong competition from Hutt City in the Keep New Zealand Beautiful "cities" category of their 2018 awards night, held at the Auckland Maritime Room.

The KNZB judges described Dunedin's submission as exhibiting a "strong sense of community pride" after the city "implemented exceptional recycling initiatives to further engage the community, which have shown outstanding results".

The criteria in the Most Beautiful City category took into consideration initiatives such as litter prevention, waste minimisation, community beautification projects, recycling projects and sustainable tourism attractions.

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KNZB is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to keeping Kiwi communities "clean, safe and beautiful" whose campaigns Be A Tidy Kiwi and Do the Right Thing have been part of New Zealand culture for nearly 50 years.

In other KNZB categories, Taupo won the Most Beautiful Large Town and Raglan took out the Most Beautiful Small Town.

The Most Beautiful Town and City finalists were decided after a visit from celebrity judges: renowned Kiwi stencil artist Flox (Hayley King) and NZ House & Garden editor Sally Duggan.

"The Beautiful Awards celebrate the incredible inroads into sustainability, environmental excellence and community beautification that New Zealand is making as a nation," KNZB chief executive Heather Saunderson said.

Twelve other awards were also presented on the night, celebrating environmental excellence among businesses, schools, individuals and places throughout New Zealand.