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Whilst generally participants did not have any significant concerns regarding the natural environment, they felt that Waiouru did not make the most of its location situated within an impressive natural landscape, and there was untapped potential for Waiouru in this respect. Whereas the toilet area was spoken of in positive terms in 2020, residents now felt it look unkempt:

"I don’t have big concerns but I think in some ways we don’t do as good a job… and I don’t mean we as in... well, I don’t know who I mean. But in marketing, we’re such a great community and we sort of are a gateway but we give people no incentive to stop. The park is going to help, but we’ve got this great opportunity to do something and come here, and we do nothing."
"Waiouru is the only place in the Ruapehu District Council that’s on State Highway One. Make the most of it, it’s the gateway to the region."
"Even if we were part of a triangle, a cycle track that went from Waiouru to ‘Kune to Taihape, but there’s nothing like that. Something to connect us to the mountain bike tracks because we get a lot of people mountain biking in Ohakune so why not just take a little detour, it's beautiful too, the scenery!"
"Apart from the museum there’s nothing."
"If you’re a community member you can go out to the recreational zone and do a mountain bike but that’s pretty limited as to where you can go. But no, not for the public."
"It would be pretty cool to be able to bike from Waiouru to Ohakune, Raetihi, and do a cycle there!"
"I think that’s the excitement around the playground. If people are stopping at the Z they might come to the playground. And then they’d think, “Oh this is really nice, let’s get some lunch.”"
"I think our town is just so drab. It's so horrible looking and if I was passing through I just wouldn't want to stop there either. And I know when the Council put the new rock garden in, it looked really amazing the first year and it looks like shit now. There's no maintenance or anything like that and it's, yeah..."
"There's one guy that's trying his best, the guy doing the ground now."
"Like that one along where the bakery used to be, I drove along there the other day and I was like, oh my god that looks horrible! And I always think to myself that I think this playground could help beautify our town and, I know myself, you always stopped in the town where there is a good playground. You worked your trip around where you would stop with the kids."
"When my family comes here, we will go to Ohakune and go to the playground over there. There’s lots of families that drive to Ohakune to go to the Carrot Park. It’s always packed. We go over there and buy fish and chips or a sandwich and if we could just have that in our own town!"

Participants thought that drinking water in Waiouru was, “some of the best in the country:”

"I was disappointed to hear that the camp commander wanted to fluoridate it. I like it as it is."
"And it’s always cold, you never have to put it in the fridge."
"You gotta nuke it to warm it up!"

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