PHOTO: And the winner is…. FILE

The official verdict is in, and Taupō has been declared New Zealand’s most beautiful town. The town clinched the Beautiful Awards Supreme Towns and Cities Award, securing its position as the judges’ top choice among this year’s finalists.

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The announcement took place during the Keep New Zealand Beautiful Awards ceremony at Parliament House in Wellington on Thursday, November 9. Taupō received an additional accolade with the Kiwis’ Choice Award, bestowed upon the Te Ātea lakefront space.

While Tūrangi was a finalist for the Most Beautiful Small Town Award, it conceded the title to Arrowtown this time. Although Taupō didn’t secure the Most Beautiful Large Town category, it earned the prestigious Supreme title.

Judges commended Taupō’s environmental endeavors, and Keep New Zealand Beautiful CEO Heather Saunderson emphasized that these efforts set Taupō apart as the clear winner.

“Among all the towns and cities I visited, Taupō ranked among the highest for the numerous climate-conscious initiatives it undertakes, excelling across every other criterion, making it the clear winner of the Supreme Award.”

The challenging decision-making process reflected the exceptionally high standard of submissions for the Towns & Cities Award. Judges gained valuable insights into remarkable environmental initiatives implemented over the past 12 months in each town.

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One notable initiative in Taupō was the Kai Rescue Programme, which redistributes surplus food from local cafes and supermarkets to community members in need. Judges also commended the town for its regular community litter collections, the Downstream Defenders program targeting waste reduction in the lake, and sustainable transport schemes, such as e-bikes and hybrid cars for Taupō District Council workers.

Sponsored by Resene, the Supreme Towns and Cities Award includes a mural painted by a local artist valued at up to $10,000.

Te Ātea, winner of the Kiwis’ Choice Award, serves as the centerpiece of the recently redeveloped lakefront area. This award celebrates the public’s favorite spot in New Zealand, and Te Ātea, meaning ‘space’ in te reo Māori, is a pedestrian-friendly gathering area featuring a 2000-year-old totara carving named Pou Aio-nuku Aio-rangi, created by local artist Kingi Pitiroi and master carver Delani Brown. The carving represents significant ancestors and is surrounded by 13 steel columns symbolizing the streams and rivers feeding into Lake Taupō.

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Other winners in various categories include Awanui, Arrowtown, Whakatāne, New Plymouth, and Tauranga, each recognized for their beauty in different size and population categories.

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