Fireworks, festivals, stars and lasers: NZ marks colourful start to 2017

JASON DORDAY/Stuff.co.nz

A massive deployment of fireworks, fired from the top of the Sky Tower, lights up Auckland city's night sky at the start of 2017.

New Zealand has welcomed 2017 in style with parties roaring into the early hours, Hollywood stars indulging in holiday hotspots and a former Prime Minister's son providing the soundtrack to the country's biggest fireworks display.

As the first major nation in the world to change the calendar (credit to Tonga, Samoa and Kiribati who got in one hour earlier) Kiwis wasted no time embracing the party cheer.

Auckland marked the New Year with an explosive display as 500kg of fireworks were launched into the sky in five minutes.

The many colours of the fireworks from the Sky Tower in Auckland at midnight on 2015 New Year's Eve.
JASON DORDAY/FAIRFAX NZ

The many colours of the fireworks from the Sky Tower in Auckland at midnight on 2015 New Year's Eve.

DJ Max Key, son of former Prime Minister John Key, was responsible for the music choices at the stroke of midnight as lasers beamed onto the side of the Sky Tower.

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Actors and actresses took in the attractions, with high-profile visits from Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco in Nelson, comedy king Sacha Baron Cohen and his actress wife Isla Fisher in Queenstown and Auckland and some top tennis aces, including Serena and Venus Williams, in Auckland.

Revellers dance to Akil the MC at Rhythm and Alps, the South Island New Year's Eve music festival.
Lauren Constable

Revellers dance to Akil the MC at Rhythm and Alps, the South Island New Year's Eve music festival.

Twilight actress Ashley Greene capped off her holiday by getting engaged to boyfriend Paul Khoury, who popped the question at Bridal Veil Falls in Raglan.

World number two tennis player Serena Williams, who recently got engaged to Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of the social media company Reddit, took in the sights of Waiheke Island, ahead of the ASB classic where she will take on challengers including sister Venus and former world number one Caroline Wozniacki.

Cuoco, the 31-year-old American actress kept Nelson wineries busy as she and her boyfriend Karl Cook tasted their way around the region.

Sacha Baron Cohen as Norman "Nobby" Grimsby and Cohen's wife, Isla Fisher, at the Grimsby premiere.
David M. Benett

Sacha Baron Cohen as Norman "Nobby" Grimsby and Cohen's wife, Isla Fisher, at the Grimsby premiere.

Fisher, Baron Cohen and their children spent time in Queenstown and made a snowman on top of a glacier before heading up to Auckland for New Year's Eve.

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Free New Year festivities at Christchurch's North Hagley Park and Wellington's Frank Kitts Park were popular spots as bands and fireworks entertained the crowds.

At Rhythm and Vines (Gisborne) and Rhythm and Alps (Cardrona Valley) festivals, thousands danced their way into the New Year with performances from Chance the Rapper, Kimbra, and RUFUS.

Max Key DJed at the Sky Tower.
GEORGE HEARD/FAIRFAX NZ

Max Key DJed at the Sky Tower.

Wanaka attracted a large turnout of holidaymakers but police were extra vigilant there after the antics of drunken revellers at Ruby Island on Thursday ended with hundreds having to be rescued from the lake.

Police said there had been a few minor assaults but no major incidents. Rain shortly after midnight saw revellers - many intoxicated - rush indoors after marking 2017's arrival.

 Meanwhile, Mount Maunganui had to make do without its annual party at the Mount Main beach, which was banned after a string of violent crimes in recent years.

Sophie Neale hosted actress Kaley Cuoco, right, at Brightwater Vineyards in Nelson.
SUPPLIED/ SOPHIE NEALE

Sophie Neale hosted actress Kaley Cuoco, right, at Brightwater Vineyards in Nelson.

Police said they were making their presence felt across the country, with extra staff at holiday spots including Northland, Mt Maunganui, Coromandel Peninsula and Queenstown. 

A focus was also on countering possible terror threats, with police saying they and partner agencies "are continually working to ensure the safety of the New Zealand public".

Serena Williams is raring to go in the 2017 ASB Classic in Auckland starting on January 2.
JASON DORDAY/FAIRFAX NZ

Serena Williams is raring to go in the 2017 ASB Classic in Auckland starting on January 2.

 - Stuff

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