Whanganui edges out Lower Hutt for most beautiful city prize

2:22 pm on 25 October 2019

Whanganui has won the Most Beautiful City award at the Keep New Zealand Beautiful Awards - relegating Lower Hutt to second place.

Overlooking the Whanganui River and City New Zealand. Photo taken from Durie Hill.

Whanganui Photo: 123RF

The river city also took out the Best Street categories for the historic Ridgway Street precinct.

The annual awards, which celebrate towns and cities who have lead the way in environmental and beautification projects, were announced last night.

Whanganui was recognised for its street art festival, urban shared pathways and down town regeneration work, among other initiatives.

Ridgway Street at dusk

Ridgway Street at dusk. Photo: Supplied / Whanganui District Council

Keep New Zealand Beautiful is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to keeping communities clean, safe and beautiful and its campaigns - such as 'Be A Tidy Kiwi' and 'Do the Right Thing' - have been a part of the country's cultural landscape for 50 years.

Chief executive Heather Saunderson and celebrity chef Michael Van de Elzen judged the awards.

Mr Van de Elzen said he loved the fact that everyone in Whanganui seemed to be getting involved in making the city better, from the local council to the surrounding iwi.

"The recycling centre was just incredible and really set Whanganui apart - I wish every town and city could have one," he said.

Whanganui councillor Helen Craig entered the Ridgway Street precinct between Drews and Victoria avenues in the Best Street category.

"Ridgway Street is one of New Zealand's most beautiful streets, with wall-to-wall heritage buildings, beautiful blossom trees in spring, a small park and a temporary activity and food-cart pop-up community space last summer.

A recently-added huge Pat Perry mural of Whanganui painter Edith Collier overlooking the park was the icing on the cake, Ms Craig said.

"It's thanks to Town Centre Regeneration Project Manager, Ellen Young, and citizens like Dave Corney, who generously supported the pop-up park, that helped us to win this award."

Whanganui District mayor Hamish McDouall

Hamish McDouall. Photo: Whanganui District Council

Meanwhile, Mayor Hamish McDouall said to win two categories at the awards was simply outstanding.

"There has been a big surge in beautification projects happening in Whanganui over the past year.

"They range from a street art festival to a scheme funding heritage buildings' enhancement work. These wins showcase the town-beautification work and sustainability initiatives that are in our community."

Eleven other awards were presented at the ceremony to individuals, businesses, communities and places to celebrate their environmental excellence across New Zealand.

Lower Hutt City, a finalist and strong competitor against Whanganui for Most Beautiful City, was given the Outstanding Service Award for its efforts to become environmentally sustainable.

Most Sustainable Business

The Rubbish Whisperer, Christchurch

Most Sustainable Business Project

Vendella, Timaru

Most Beautiful Small Town


Most Beautiful Large Town


Most Beautiful City


Outstanding Service Award

Lower Hutt City

Klean Kanteen Community Environmental Initiative Award

Refill NZ, Wellington

Community Group Award

For Our Real Clean Environment (FORCE), Whangarei

Sustainable Schools

Francis Douglas Memorial College, New Plymouth

Best Loo

Colac Bay Toilet, Invercargill

Best Street

Ridgway Street, Whanganui

Click here for the full list of winners.