It's official - we all knew it but now we can tell the world that Whanganui really is New Zealand's most beautiful city.
Not only that, we also have the best street in New Zealand. And Ohakune has people's favourite public spot.
Whanganui was crowned the Most Beautiful City at the Beautiful Awards, organised by Keep New Zealand Beautiful (KNZB), announced in Dunedin this evening. Ridgway St was named the Best Street.
The Beautiful Awards is an annual competition that recognises the environmental excellence of individuals, groups, businesses and schools. Whanganui District Council entered the city in the awards and Councillor Helen Craig, in a personal capacity, entered Ridgway St into the best street category.
The Most Beautiful City finalists were judged by KNZB's CEO Heather Saunderson and celebrity chef Michael Van de Elzen, with Whanganui up against Lower Hutt City for the title.
The award recognises cities whose councils are enhancing their local environments and considers initiatives such as litter prevention/waste minimisation, community beautification projects and sustainable tourism attractions. The judges visited Whanganui in September to look at local initiatives.
In the awards announcement, Van de Elzen said he loved the fact that everyone in Whanganui was getting involved in making the city better.
"The recycling centre was just incredible and really set Whanganui apart – I wish every town and city could have one," he said.
Saunderson said the finalists had demonstrated "bold leadership" in implementing innovative sustainable projects that helped reduce their environmental footprint and build resilient towns and cities.
"These towns and cities are truly leading the way in tackling a variety of environmental issues, and we believe that their call to action will inspire others to create change."
The judges said Whanganui was motivated to reduce waste and implement sustainability projects in the community, and local groups were helping to make this happen.
"Through the council starting an anti-dumping campaign, many beautification events, improved recycling projects and sustainable tourism initiatives, it is clear that the Whanganui community has banded together over the past year and gone above and beyond to help their city."
Ridgway St claimed the Best Street Award, given to a street that clearly stands out for its beauty, cleanliness, plantings and sense of community pride. It was up against Greytown's Main St and Nelson's Seymour Ave
"Ridgway Street is full of heritage buildings, offering a full representation of architectural styles between 1860 and 1960. There is a park in the centre of a street where a fire took down an old building, but the local council has beautified it with a three-storey mural on the building that overlooks the park. Their environmental, planting and beautification initiatives include a drinking fountain, and turning the park into a communal pop-up space. They created a live music stage out of wooden pallets and a shade sail, a community garden with the help of Common Ground Coffee, and flower beds.
"In March 2019, Whanganui held its first Whanganui Walls Festival. Artists employed more environmentally friendly practices by using spray guns to minimise impact to create eight beautiful murals on heritage building walls."
In the Kiwi's Choice Award, anyone in New Zealand can nominate their favourite public spot, with the award presented to the local council that governs the winning location.
Ohakune Carrot Adventure Park claimed the title over Taupō's Otumuheke Hot Stream.
"The community of Ohakune wanted to transform this once railway siding and large wasteland into and activity area. The park is complete with electric barbecues, sheltered park benches and log seating, walkways with native plants, a playground with a bike track, and cartoon vegetables fashioned out of high-density polystyrene and fibreglass."