Whanganui Castlecliff has transformed from a suburb in economic decline with a reputation for gang violence into a thriving community, after residents approached the council with a masterplan.
Young families are moving in, school rolls have increased and home buyers are seeing the potential of the seaside neighbourhood.
A vibrant holiday settlement in the 1950s and 1960s, economic decline and high-profile gang clashes in the 1980s and 1990s caused the area's reputation to dive.
Progress Castlecliff spokesperson Jamie Waugh arrived in the suburb from Wellington about nine years ago, attracted to the coastal lifestyle.
"Wellington wasn't making so much sense anymore with my first daughter on the way and I wanted to be somewhere where I could have a better lifestyle, have time to enjoy the things I like to do and time to spend with my family."
The 35-year-old lawyer said Castlecliff's gang problems had always been exaggerated.
"Gangs are reality of any part of New Zealand. There's no more gang activity in Castlecliff than there is anywhere else in Whanganui and there's no more gang activity in Whanganui than anywhere else in New Zealand, and [Ministry of] Justice and police statistics will bear that out."
In 2014 Project Castlecliff made a submission to the council, saying the suburb's problem was it had been ignored.
"The council grabbed onto that submission - they could see sense in it. It wasn't a hard sell. It was the cheapest property in New Zealand at the time.
"It's coastal, it's central, it's beautiful and Whanganui hadn't really spent any money in Castlecliff for probably 40 years. Whanganui had turned its back on Castlecliff."
The community rallied together and came up with a Castlecliff masterplan, which was included in the city's long-term plan.
The suburb's hub, Rangiora Street, has been landscaped and new businesses have sprung up.
The Castlecliff Surf Lifesaving Club received $100,000 for restoration and the neighbourhood is set to be connected to the national cycleway heading west from Tongariro National Park.
Rangiora Street gallery owner Ivan Vostinar left the capital four years ago.
He said an important element of the Castlecliff masterplan was the desire for the area to maintain its character.
"There's well-off people, less-well-off people, sick people, well people, educated, less-educated - and in a way that feels real.
"Whereas living in a privileged suburb in Wellington - it's pleasant, you meet nice people, but in a way it's not reality."
Figures from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand showed the median house price in Castlecliff for the March quarter was still $130,000, a 14 percent increase on a year before, and 43 percent up on five years ago.
Frustrated with house prices in Auckland, Lyndsey Craig and her partner Ahu Te Ua moved to Castlecliff two months ago.
"It seemed like it was never going to happen in Auckland so we have some family who are down here and it's a beautiful place to live.
"The sea's just around the corner and the house prices were reasonable and so we thought we'd look for a house down here."
The teachers were yet to find work but were already enjoying having a garden after years of apartment living.
Retiree Marjorie Heart also said she could not be happier.
"I've lived in Gisborne, I went to Waiheke Island, went to Foxton, came here to Whanganui and loved every minute of it.
"It's the people, the beaches, fun, laughter. Take the dog for a walk, just have fun."
Lynne Douglas, who had lived in Castlecliff for more than 50 years, said the new arrivals were a boon for the neighbourhood.
"Just in the last couple of years we've got more of an influx of people coming down from Auckland and some of the other bigger places - and fortunately a lot of them are buying a property to be owner-occupied."