"Comprehensive" upgrades have been unveiled at Rotokawau Virginia Lake's beloved Higginbottom Fountain.

An opening ceremony was held by the Virginia Lake Trust on Wednesday with the mayor, Hamish McDouall, and a small group of supporters in attendance.

The fountain, installed in 1971, is a copper and steel floating structure in the form of a lily.

The Whanganui District Council's parks spokeswoman, Wendy Bainbridge, said the lights at the fountain had been unreliable and were "uneconomic" to repair.

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PowerCo stepped in and donated $10,000 to go towards the installation of new LED lights and drilling required to replace ducting and cabling.

Eleanor Burgess Trust also contributed to the upgrades of the fountain and the council helped with installation costs.

"The fountain was gifted to the city in the early 1970s by Percy Higginbottom, a well-known philanthropist, and through the Virginia Lake Trust, Eleanor Burgess Trust and Powerco, this culture of philanthropy at the lake has continued," said McDouall.

"The Higginbottom Fountain is a much-loved fixture of the lake and of our city. The lake and fountain are major Whanganui icons people see when driving toward the city from the western entrance and it's even more magical when the lights are on at night.

"While enjoying leisurely summer evenings over Christmas I encourage you to view the fountain in full colour mode once the sun goes down," said McDouall.

A mural of a large swan added to the fountain box by artist Amla Meijer was also unveiled at the ceremony.