Kiwis around the country are partying to farewell 2020 and welcome in the new year.
Thousands of people are in Victoria St West in central Auckland and got a close-up view for the fireworks display that went off at midnight from the Sky Tower.
The crowd around the Sky Tower screamed with excitement at 11.45pm when a man on the public address system announced: “We only have 15 minutes”.
In the lead-up to midnight, the Sky Tower was adorned with colourful animated laser displays of geometric shapes and animals including a green gecko which appeared to be climbing down the 328m tall tower.
Music blasted around SkyCity on the entertainment centre’s speakers included Kiwi drinking anthem Bliss by Sir Dave Dobbyn’s band Th’Dudes and a remix of an ABBA hit where the lead singer declares “Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight”.
A light display on the Harbour Bridge also illuminated the city’s skyline.
The MC at the Viaduct had been hyping up the crowd, even going as far as to suggest there was still time to find a cheeky “New Year’s pash”.
He added it was amazing we were able to celebrate the way we are in New Zealand.
“It feels lucky but it also feels like we have earned this as well. We have done the mahi.”
While firefighters have been called out to deal with a number of bonfires at beaches, partygoers have been mostly well behaved so far.
However riot police were called to the Whangamatā Surf Club where thousands of teenagers had gathered, with some gathered on the roof throwing bottles.
Relaxed revellers have been enjoying a variety of music and activities on offer with hundreds gathered at Silo Park.
Rasela Aukuso, 18, was with her mum Taufau Aukuso and said she counted New Zealand “so lucky” that we could enjoy more freedoms than others.
She hoped that the borders would open again in the new year so she can visit family in Samoa and Australia.
“We are very blessed to be in New Zealand,” her mother added.
DJ Che Fu earlier told the crowd it has been a year of extremes.
“All my blessing to you and yours,” he said. “2021 is going to be a good one – I promise.
See ya later 2020.”
Alina Manu and her mother, Nane Manu, were among the crowd at Wynyard Viaduct. They headed down for lunch today, heard the music and were drawn to the celebrations.
But things can only go up from here, she said. She is hopeful she can resume travelling next year but isn’t too fussed if she can’t, saying she was just grateful for how the country handled the pandemic and that events like this could happen for the community.
North Shore residents Elizabeth Salinas and her children, Sergio Minota, 16, and Karen Minota, 21, were also enjoying the music.
Sergio said he was hopeful for a “more peaceful year” in 2021. His sister and mother agreed with Salinas adding, “and no more lockdown”.
Head of major events for Auckland Unlimited Hamish Clarke said the feedback from the team was that there were more people gathered than the same time in previous years.
There was a very relaxed feel in air as people were just “wanting to get out and say goodbye to this challenging year”.
“All the entertainment is family friendly,” Clarke said. “This is awesome. This is just what we envisaged. Giving people a reason to come together.”
Further south the mood was equally upbeat as hundreds of families were at Blake Park in Mount Maunganui for the free New Year’s Eve community celebration.
More than 500 people were dotted around the park soaking up the free entertainment, including great music by local bands.
The dancing started early with plenty of children having a boogie on the grass in front of stage.
The Middleton family from Auckland were among those soaking up the carnival-like atmosphere.
Richard Middleton, originally from Papamoa and his wife, Kylie, originally from Te Puke, were home to see in the New Year with their three sons and other family members.
“It’s an awesome family event and it’s great to see all the support from local businesses too,” said Richard.
Kylie agreed. “We couldn’t think of a better place to bring the kids to celebrate New Year’s Eve … This is home to us and our boys are loving it.”
Circus performer Hayley Rose Harbottle from Flames of Plenty, said the crowd reaction was awesome, especially the young children. “I feel like the Pied Piper, ” she said with a huge grin.
Young Isaac Hetherington, 3, was among plenty of children trying to grab giant soap bubbles.
“It’s really great, especially as our kids are old enough to join in all the fun,” said his dad, Mt Maunganui man Matt Hetherington said. “It’s a great place to celebrate the New Year.”
Terry Jones and his two children Zoe, 10, and 12-year-old Liam were among the chilled out crowd at Tauranga’s waterfront.
“It’s really nice place to come to see in the New Year, and close to the bars and restaurants. We really enjoy coming because it’s an awesome family-friendly event and a great spot to watch the fireworks.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spent part of the day popping into All Things Organic in Tairua on the Coromandel Peninsula for an icecream.
In Rotorua the New Year’s Eve Night Market was bustling as people descended on Tutanekai St for the event, which ran extra late and with a range of entertainment.
The balloon-twisting and face-painting was a big hit with families, with a large crowd gathering around to get among the action.
The live music acts captivated people, with many making use of chairs, beanbags and the seating area to take a break, eat and listen to the local talent.
Rotorua’s Leanne Stewart said they had decided to go along since it was the community event to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
“There’s always a great vibe down here anyway.
“It’s an existing event and it already has patronage, so having extra for New Year’s Eve
seems appropriate and it will have lots of local tourism.”
She said she was feeling optimistic about 2021 and looking forward to a new year.
Wellington’s Jo Purdey is visiting Rotorua with her family, and her son, Fin Clough, 4, was very excited about getting his shaped balloon.
“Anything family-friendly like this is great on New Year’s Eve. It’s wonderful, lovely.”
When asked what her hopes were for 2021, she said she just hoped that the rest of the world gets to live like New Zealand is living.
A lively crowd of about 400 gathered in Dunedin’s Octagon and nearby bars in Stuart St preparing to farewell 2020.
While some were sheltering under an array of colourful umbrellas, others were embracing the rain – and many were also taking advantage of the Patti’s and Cream ice cream truck, the Otago Daily Times reported.
Dunedin rock band Saurian had the crowd moving, before the final act of the night, Loose & Colourful, took to the stage about 10pm.
And hundreds of people also congregated in Te Anau’s Lion Park to dance to live music at the New Year Party and Fireworks in the Park event in Fiordland.