A beach clean-up activity has left Whanganui High School students shocked by what they found.

Year 9 and 10 students took part in four days of elective activities for their school houses, with a range of indoor and outdoor options on offer, teacher Tris Martin said.

"One of these was the beach clean-up, where students went to Castlecliff or South Beach for a two-hour walk to scour the environment for litter," Martin said.

"Small groups of students from each house travelled by car to each destination and were shocked and surprised at the amount of plastic, tin, paper and glass that had been discarded and often wedged in the dunes.

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"Students questioned why people just discarded their leftover packaging and drink containers and expressed how satisfying it was to have contributed to bettering our environment."