1 Jan 2011

Revellers welcome 2011 throughout NZ

7:00 pm on 1 January 2011

New Zealand became the first major country to welcome in 2011, which began with a bang in many of the major centres.

Police are praising the behaviour of revellers following a relatively quiet New Year's Eve. There were no major disturbances recorded in any of the usual trouble spots or major centres.

Police in popular holiday destinations such as Taupo, Nelson and Wanaka say the overwhelming majority of holidaymakers kept themselves out of mischief.

In the biggest centre, Auckland, thousands flocked into the central city to see co-ordinated fireworks displays from the Sky Tower and from barges in the Waitemata Harbour.

They were treated to what the Auckland Council says was the biggest pyrotechnics display since the millennium celebrations in 2000.

Inspector Willy Taylor says extra police were on duty to deal with anyone getting too drunk and causing problems as celebrations continued well into the small hours on Saturday. Police made 42 arrests.

In Wellington, 20 people were arrested and police say it was a quieter than an average Saturday night in the capital.

Acting area commander Inspector Simon Perry says most arrests were for disorder offences, breaches of the liquor ban and fighting.

Mr Perry says the quieter than normal New Year's Eve could be due to the fact a large number of young people went to the La De Da music festival in Wairarapa. About 12,000 people were expected to attend the event at Alana Estate in Martinborough.

Police say it was also relatively quiet throughout the lower North Island, as well as in the central region and Gisborne and Taranaki.

The new year began without incident at popular destinations such as Mt Maunganui, Whangamata and Taupo.

Officers had to deal with some alcohol-related disorder but say crowds were generally well-behaved.

The number of people arrested at Mt Maunganui was 123, down by 32% on the previous year.

South Island celebrations

Police in Nelson arrested 21 people, mainly for being drunk and disorderly, during New Year's celebrations. However, area commander Inspector Brian McGurk says considering the thousands of people holidaying in the region, it was a quiet night.

Mr McGurk credits the relatively incident-free start to 2011 to careful planning by event organisers of several concerts and other events which attracted large crowds.

In Christchurch, continuing aftershocks following a big earthquake in September did not stop people ringing in the new year.

There was doubt about whether celebrations would go ahead because of damage to buildings in Cathedral Square in the central city, but police say about 12,000 attended a fireworks display.

There were four aftershocks on New Year's Eve - the largest measuring 4.1. A 3.3-magnitude tremor about an hour before midnight was felt in the central city, but did not cause any damage.

Officers arrested 69 people, mainly for disorder offences, but police say it was the quietest New Year's Eve in the city for three years.

In Dunedin, event organisers say more than 8000 people gathered in the Octagon to welcome in 2011 and police made only 30 arrests.

Event organisers say more young people attended the celebrations and, overall, it was a family-friendly atmosphere.

Fireworks shot off the Dunedin City Council building to the delight of onlookers. The band on stage also sang Auld Lang Syne to the cheers of the crowd as 2011 began.

Queenstown police brought in additional officers, but say those out celebrating in the resort town were well-behaved.