The Ohakune Carrot Adventure Park has beaten nominees from around New Zealand to win the Healthy Park Award at the 2019 Recreation Aotearoa NZ Parks Awards.
The judges said that the carrot park was a wonderful case in point of what a small community can achieve with focused dedication to a communally accepted vision.
Ruapehu community property team leader Rebecca Van Orden accepted the award at a ceremony in Auckland last week.
She said that the level of community engagement was an important judging criteria.
"The degree to which the Carrot Park was initiated and progressed by the Ohakune community along with their involvement in its on-going development and maintenance was recognised by the judging panel," Van Orden said.
Recreation Aotearoa parks and open spaces programme manager Karl Nesbitt said the project was an example of inclusiveness and creativity that reflected the Ohakune community and what it is known for.
"I love the connection to carrots and how this is themed and the interpretation signage throughout the park," Nesbitt said.
Ruapehu mayor Don Cameron said that the award was worthy recognition of the dedication of the Ohakune community to delivering the vision for the carrot park.
"Although council has supported the carrot park with funding and other resources this was the easy part," Cameron said.
"It has to be acknowledged that it has been the hard work and commitment undertaken by the Ohakune community that has created this amazing space that has become such an asset to the township."
Cameron said that without the local leadership provided by Ohakune2000, supported by the Growers Association together with local iwi, volunteers, businesses and farmers who contributed their time, materials and resources into its design and development, the carrot park would not be the success that it is.
"The community was consulted widely in its design and to ensure that it would meet their needs," Cameron said.
"As a result, the carrot park is not only a recreation reserve, playground and comfort stop, but a unique space that reflects the history and values of Ohakune."
Cameron said that the Ohakune community has every right to feel justifiably proud of what they have created at the carrot park.
"Recreation Aotearoa has invited council to enter the carrot park in the international Green Flag award that recognises well-designed and managed parks and reserves that are meeting their community's needs.
"The carrot park is a great case study in best practice in how to go about a project like this. People shouldn't be at all surprised if the carrot park continues to win awards for some time to come."