1 Jan 2016

Thousands welcome in the New Year

6:45 am on 1 January 2016

Thousands of people gathered in cities throughout the country last night to welcome in the New Year with fireworks and free public events.

Fireworks display to welcome in 2016 at Rhythm and Vines, in Gisborne

Fireworks display to welcome in 2016 at Rhythm and Vines, in Gisborne Photo: Jared Donkin

Police throughout the country said it was a very busy night, but it was the usual disorder associated with a Saturday night, and revellers had been largely well-behaved and good-natured.

In Auckland, laser animations were fired from the tops of buildings onto the Sky Tower in the lead up to a fireworks display on the stroke of midnight.

A big crowd gathered on Wellington's waterfront for the fireworks display there with the Rodger Fox Big Band swinging the crowd into action. In Petone, Fat Freddy's Drop played a concert.

Christchurch City Council's annual countdown was held at Lake Victoria in Hagley Park and Six60 played in the New Year in Cathedral Square.

Dunedin residents partied in the Octagon, with an all-ages event, which culminated in a single salute from the Robbie Burns Cannon and a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne followed by fireworks.

Organisers of the Rhythm and Vines festival in Gisborne said a bit of mud from showers yesterday did not put off the 15,000 strong crowd enjoying festivities,

Police said there was a marked improvement in behaviour at the festival compared with last year.

Just four people were arrested - three for disorder and one for assault.

Police said that number was low considering the high level of drunkenness among people staying in two campsites adjoining the festival site.

Dozens of people were turned away at the festival entrance because they were highly intoxicated.