Brass Whanganui has returned from the New Zealand Brass Band Championships in Blenheim with nine trophies and the shield for best B Grade band in the country.

"We have had the most marvellous time. The band has been incredible in the way they have gone about it. It's pretty cool when it all comes together," musical director Bruce Jellyman said.

The 138th championships were on from July 11-15, and a contingent of 30 Whanganui band members and five managers went.

Brass Whanganui has alternated between the A and B grades, and was in a rebuilding phase after losing some key players.

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Members were surprised and delighted to clamber back to the top of the B Grade, Jellyman said.

They didn't know how well they had done until results were announced on Saturday.

The first few days of the event were for solo and small group competition.

Whanganui's Sarah Wright was junior cornet champion and went on to be second junior overall.

Hamish Jellyman and Ian O'Malley won the open duet, band chairman Jonathon Greenwell was third in the open bass trombone and the trombone trio came second.

Friday was a "momentous" day for the band. It won the sacred item and test major work categories, with Andrew Toy on flugelhorn the best soloist in the test work.

In the street march it won three trophies and was second across all the bands. It adopted a theme based on the 1960s television show Thunderbirds.

Band members dressed in bright red and marched in the shape of a rocket ship, with band manager Kaye Smith dressed as Lady Penelope in the lead.

They had a good sound, were well drilled and were also judged the most entertaining.

Saturday was the day for playing longer pieces. Brass Whanganui was fourth in the B Grade, but with the points from Friday it was judged best B Grade band overall.

All the band's new trophies will live in a cabinet in its bandroom, and Brass Whanganui will be New Zealand's best B Grade band for the next 12 months.

The last time it achieved that was 2010, Jellyman said, and he hadn't expected it this time.

"We thought it would be nice to get a placing - there are some good bands in that grade. We've just gone and whipped them."