31 Dec 2013

Thousands set to welcome in 2014

10:54 pm on 31 December 2013

About 30,000 people in the south of the South Island were expected at public parties to see in the new year.

In Dunedin, more than 10,000 people were expected in the city's Octagon for the midnight firing of the Robbie Burns Cannon and a fireworks display, while 15,000 were expected at the Queenstown and Wanaka waterfronts.

The other big party in the Queenstown Lakes area is in the Cardrona Valley between Queenstown and Wanaka at the two-day music festival Rhythm and Alps which has sold more than 5000 tickets.

There is no party in central Otago for first time in more than a decade after organisers of the annual Clyde street party called it quits.

New Year's Eve revellers in Dunedin's the Octagon.

New Year's Eve revellers in Dunedin's the Octagon. Photo: RNZ

Family fun in Christchurch

In Christchurch, about 2500 children were entertained earlier on Tuesday night by pirates, balloons, streamers and wizards at official celebrations.

For the third year, the city council has put on a family-focused celebration in North Hagley Park, culminating in a special 'kids countdown' at 8.30pm.

The Wizard of Christchurch even cast the first official spell for 2014. "This is the end of the year that's been and now we're living in 2014. Nobody knows what this year will bring, the earthquake winter will end with spring."

The New Zealand Army Band entertained a crowd of about 15,000 for the rest of the evening.

The council said as the clock strikes midnight, Hagley Park would light up with a spectacular fireworks display and a hearty crowd performance of Auld Lang Syne before celebrations wind up at 12.30am.

Capital ditches New Year's Eve event

Wellington City Council has scrapped its traditional New Year's Eve celebrations in favour of an afternoon concert on New Year's Day.

Instead of a countdown to midnight in Civic Square, the council has organised a concert at Waitangi Park headlined by Trinity Roots on Wednesday.

The council has already come in for criticism over its decision to scale back Christmas decorations around the city's streets in favour of small gifts to residents rubbish bags.

Spokesperson Richard MacLean said the New Year's Eve event wasn't attracting enough people to justify continuing it and hoped greater numbers would attend the concert.