It's official - Masterton is the most beautiful city in New Zealand, and Greytown is the most beautiful small town.
Both scooped top awards at last night's Beautiful Awards gala dinner at the Craggy Range Vineyard in Hastings.
Masterton took out the top prize for Most Beautiful City (population over 20,000), with Greytown and Feilding winning most beautiful small town (population under 5000) and large town (5000 to 20,000), respectively.
The awards, run by the Keep New Zealand Beautiful charitable trust, recognise and celebrate positive actions taken by communities in local and urban areas to protect and enhance their local environments.
The judges said Masterton's entry blew them away with its wide range of environmental and heritage conservation projects, and the strength of the community engagement "with numerous community groups working hard to make the city a safer and more beautiful community".
Speaking at the gala dinner last night, Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said it was a great result for the region.
"There's natural beauty all around Masterton and some outstanding parks and reserves, but the most beautiful thing is our wonderful community.
"This award is for our people and I'm proud to collect it on their behalf."
The application process involved submitting information on environmental action, community beautification, heritage conservation, community engagement, and historical beauty and tourism.
Each entry also had to put together a visual tour, made up of photos and/or video, of their town which illustrated the results of the hard work.
Masterton beat Napier and Tauranga to win the award, while Greytown was picked ahead of Raglan and Whirinaki.
The judges said Greytown was known for its "great food and sophisticated shopping, cute colonial cottages, historic trees and extraordinary chocolate".
"The small, owner-operated shops are high quality and distinctive, and Greytown offers the antithesis of big box shopping or bland and samey malls you find in many large centres," they said.
"This small town is definitely a gem of the Wairarapa."
Awards were also presented to sustainable schools, businesses and hardworking volunteers throughout New Zealand.
Heather Saunderson, chief executive officer of Keep New Zealand Beautiful, said the Beautiful Awards celebrated all contributions.
"From the most beautiful city, to the volunteer who singlehandedly collected over 700kg of rubbish this year, these awards recognise the places, businesses and people who do the right thing day in and day out to keep New Zealand beautiful.
"We are incredibly proud of the Beautiful Awards and look forward to continuing to grow these awards in 2018."
The judging panel said there were very strong submissions across all categories, which made selecting the winners incredibly hard.
The trust also runs the 'Paint Your Cabinet Beautiful' programme which aims to turn phone cabinets, that are often graffitied, into works of art.
All the winners
BEAUTIFUL TOWNS AND CITIES
These awards recognise and celebrate beautiful towns and cities right across New Zealand. They acknowledge positive actions that have been taken by communities to protect and enhance their local environments. These prestigious awards encompass initiatives such as litter prevention, recycling, protection of the environment, preserving heritage, community action and leadership and environmental sustainability programmes.
MOST BEAUTIFUL SUBURB
Winner: Havelock North
Havelock North is the vibrant heart in the Hawkes Bay. Despite its growth in recent years, Havelock North has still managed to maintain its intimate village feel. A 'must visit' destination for anyone travelling to the province they call Wine Country.
MOST BEAUTIFUL SMALL TOWN
Known for its great food and sophisticated shopping, cute colonial cottages, historic trees and extraordinary chocolate. With its small, owner operated shops that are high quality and distinctive, Greytown offers the antithesis of big box shopping or bland and samey malls you find in many large centres. This small town is definitely a gem of the Wairarapa.
MOST BEAUTIFUL LARGE TOWN
The charming town of Feilding is where you will be met with red-bricked pavements and streets, stunning flower beds, and a warm elegance. The small town atmosphere offers an escape from the hustle and bustle, where walking into shops you are met with a friendly smile, and the kind hospitality that has earned this town the label of 'Friendly Feilding'.
Masterton blew away the judges with their wide range of environmental and heritage conservation projects, and the strength of their community engagement with numerous community groups working hard to make Masterton a safer and more beautiful community.
COMMUNITY ENVIRONMENTAL INITIATIVE AWARD
This award honours innovative projects that have achieved extraordinary environmental results by harnessing the power of partnership.
Winner: Tuakau Clean Up & Planting Group
Each year the Tuakau Clean Up and Planting Group hosts a large clean up and planting day whilst engaging the community to take pride in their place, care for the environment, contribute to waste reduction and beautification of shared spaces.
Community Group Award
This award recognises and honours a not-for-profit community group that contributes to enhancing the environmental and social aspects of their region and additionally shows a strong sense of community spirit.
Winner: Wakatipu Reforestation Trust
The Wakatipu Reforestation Trust has grown locally eco-sourced seeds from their own nursery and empowered the community through Spring and Autumn plantings days to re-establish the native ecosystem of the Wakatipu Basin.
Sustainable School Award
The Sustainable Schools Award, proudly sponsored by New Zealand Couriers, annually honours a teacher, school or tertiary institution for commitment and practical action to implement sustainable practices and environmental projects, which enhance the school and/or community.
This award is sponsored by New Zealand Couriers and the recipient is awarded $2,000 to fund environmental educational activities in the winner's classroom, school or tertiary institution.
Winner: Morgan Educare
As part of their strategic plan, Morgan Educare have installed solar energy, set up recycling stations, established vegetable gardens, composting and worm farms and taken on many more other actions to work towards their environmental goals based around sustainability.
This award, proudly sponsored by Resene, recognises a favourite public spot in New Zealand based on its location, facilities, natural beauty, man-made beauty, cleanliness, popularity, and uniqueness.
Akaroa is a historic ocean side town, a short drive from Christchurch. It has beautiful and pristine water, with opportunities to go crab spotting in and around the rock pools on the water's edge as well as rare Hectors dolphins that swim in the harbour.
This award recognises the best public loo in the country based on the location, the facilities, cleanliness, interior, exterior and the surrounding environment of the loo.
Winner: Mt Hutt Ski Area
Set at an altitude of 1610m, Mt Hutt Ski Area toilets are not only modern, clean and accessible; but their clever design has successfully solved a vast array of existing problems.
Sustainable Business Awards
Recognising businesses that have purposefully and successfully made choices that are good for the future of New Zealand's environment.
MOST SUSTAINABLE SMALL BUSINESS - LESS THAN 20 STAFF
Ecoware are contributing to a plastic free New Zealand vision by providing a wide variety of sustainable packaging solutions to a variety of networks and are proud to be New Zealand's first CarboNZero certified packaging company.
MOST SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS
Winner: Ricoh New Zealand
Ricoh impressed the judges with their success in adopting an industry leadership approach to environmental sustainability throughout their operations; and in their focus on factoring environmental sustainability into all areas of their business.
MOST SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS PROJECT
This award honours New Zealand businesses who have achieved extraordinary results through an environmental or sustainability project in the past 12months.
Winner: Hawke's Bay Farmers Market
The Hawke's Bay Farmers Market has introduced a waste minimisation initiative meaning that all stallholders have changed their takeaway and tasting packaging to compostable options to promote sustainability of the market to the public.
YOUNG LEGEND AWARD
The Young Legend Award honours an outstanding volunteer under the age of 18. This exceptional young man or woman will have demonstrated remarkable leadership and outreach in his or her community through work in the areas of litter prevention, waste reduction, recycling promotion and beautification.
Winner: Joanna Tao
Joanna has a passion for the environment and is dedicated to supporting the various organisations within New Zealand and worldwide, that encourage action in the way of environmental improvements.
TIDY KIWI AWARD
The Tidy Kiwi Award recognises and rewards an individual who has distinguished himself or herself as truly extraordinary and serves as an inspiration to us all. This award honours outstanding and exceptional leadership in litter prevention, waste reduction, recycling and beautification activities.
Winner: Tom Carr
Every day, Tom works on cleaning up his local community on his way to and from work. It is estimated that since last year he had picked up about 700kg of rubbish during his 2.5-kilometre walk each day.
RUUD KLEINPASTE AWARD
This award is in honour of Ruud Kleinpaste and is given to the Keep New Zealand Beautiful member whose efforts go above and beyond to positively enhance the organisation's mission and values.
Winner: Linda Keall
Linda works tirelessly to galvanise the local volunteer base in Christchurch; coordinating various logistics for graffiti eradication initiatives, clean-up events, educational programming as well as community led projects. Linda works to promote a cleaner, more beautiful environment within Christchurch, and to raise the level of awareness of what the individual can do to improve his or her community and reduce litter.