With the aim of being crowned New Zealand's most beautiful city, Whanganui showcased some of its most sustainable initiatives to Keep New Zealand Beautiful judges.

Whanganui is in the running for the title alongside Hutt City in the annual Keep New Zealand Beautiful Awards.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful CEO Heather Saunderson and celebrity chef Michael Van De Elzen spent the day in Whanganui on Thursday with council and community members.

They met Mayor Hamish McDouall and other council members to discuss sustainability.


Marianne Cavanagh, principal adviser for the Whanganui District Council, said being a finalist, the city had to showcase different aspects of sustainability such as environment, tourism and community.

"We got told we have two hours to chat about that and then take them to one initiative and show them around and we chose to come here [the Resource Recovery Centre] because this is our flagship for sustainability," Cavanagh said.

Saunderson said they were taken to the council buildings, watched videos of the Whanganui Walls murals being painted, visited the Matipo community garden and then spent some time at the Resource Recovery Centre.

"Finalists had to have resource recovery, so looking at recycling, litter prevention and community beautification so the murals were really fantastic and I also love that there's the knowledge sharing component with the children here and that they're able to go out and learn," Saunderson said.

Both judges were impressed with the planting initiatives especially the community garden.

Van De Elzen said the resource recovery centre was amazing.

"If we had this in our area I'd use it every day and my kids would use it and the next generation would use it, this is amazing," Van De Elzen said.

"It's not just going to waste, it's being recycled, there's a bicycle area in there where they're repairing bikes, incredible."


Dale Cobb, manager of the Resource Recovery Centre, said they discussed with the judges the different collaborations the recovery centre has with various agencies.

"Because, obviously, we are not just a resource recycling centre so we wanted to capture and promote that," Cobb said.

The Resource Recovery Centre and the work they do within the community was showcased on Thursday to show the judges why Whanganui is the most beautiful city in New Zealand. Photo / Bevan Conley
The Resource Recovery Centre and the work they do within the community was showcased on Thursday to show the judges why Whanganui is the most beautiful city in New Zealand. Photo / Bevan Conley

For Van De Elzen, he said his judging comes from a food angle and the sustainability with food wastage and packaging.

"We're only here for a day and only get a little snippet of what is going on and we don't get involved in the community so you can't feel the community buzz and how together people are but being here for three to four hours I get the sense it is quite strong and you don't get that all the time."

Saunderson, who has been running Keep New Zealand Beautiful for the past seven years and is originally from Philadelphia, said Whanganui has got a lot of really energised people, making a lot of great strides and change.

"It's really about the community and the people and to get a better understanding of bottom up and top down. If it's just council led initiative it's not really going to work, if it's council and community led initiative that's what gains traction."


Ridgway St has also been named a finalist in the best street category, going up against Greytown's Main St and Nelson's Seymour Ave.

There are six finalists across three location-based categories in the competition: Most Beautiful Small Town, Most Beautiful Large Town and Most Beautiful City.

The judges are off to Hutt City in two weeks and will announce the winner at the Beautiful Awards Gala Dinner in Dunedin on October 24.