In true Wellington fashion, the wind came to party for New Year’s Eve.
Wellington City Council was forced to cancel its midnight fireworks display at the last minute due to the strong northerly winds that would have sent the fireworks off “pretty much sideways’’, events manager Rebecca Hardie said.
“There would be a chance some of the fireworks residue would end up landing on the wharves – and we don’t want anyone being hit by anything, however small.”
MetService forecaster Matt Ford said the gusty wind was caused by a ridge of high pressure in the northern North Island and a series of fronts over the lower South Island.
In between those two the isobars were getting squeezed together causing strong northerly or north-westerly winds for Wellington.
Gusts of 76kmh were recorded in Kelburn, and 63kmh at Wellington Airport.
However, festivities along the waterfront went ahead at Odlins Plaza and Frank Kitts Park, with entertainment and a children’s New Year’s Eve countdown at 9pm. A midnight countdown was also planned.
Soon after festivities kicked off at 8pm, a large crowd was gathered in Frank Kitts Park watching fire displays and live music.
Ruby Mudgway 5, and Luka Mudgway , 3, were among the first up dancing.
The Wellington children ‘‘just loved it’’, mother Amy Turner-Mudgway said.
‘‘They love the waterfront, they love showing off.’’
Ben McWhannell , from the circus and fire performance crew Highly Flammable, kept children enthralled with his ‘‘fire spinning’’.
‘‘It’s mostly for our enjoyment but to see other people’s enjoyment is part of it as well,’’ he said.
Inspector Ian Harris , of Wellington, said crowds had been largely well-behaved by 9.30pm. A Wellington Hospital spokeswoman said the emergency department was relatively quiet at the same time.
Earlier, the sun came out and humidity dropped to bearable levels for revellers welcoming in the New Year in Auckland.
A sold-out beach party at Britomart bars is expected to attract more than 2000 people.
Three tons of sand were dropped at the central city bars to ensure New Year's Eve had a summer feel for party goers.
Many lounged in sun chairs, played beach volleyball and wore flip-flops for the event spread across eight bars and restaurants in the city centre.
Fireworks from the Sky Tower will mark the New Year at midnight.
Meanwhile, Christchurch's New Year celebrations are centred around family fun, with hundreds of children and parents gathered in North Hagley Park to send off the year gone.
Seven-year-old Freya Pratt enjoyed watching children's entertainers The Natural Magic Pirate Band ahead of an early countdown for the children at 8.30pm.
Dad Bryan Pratt said it was the first time the family had attended the Christchurch City Council's annual New Year's Eve event and he was impressed with the way it had been organised.
"It's really good. The performances have been fantastic."
Pratt said 2012 had been a "pretty slow" year for Christchurch in regards to the city's earthquake rebuild.
"Things have been hard here I think. It feels as though there's been a turn for the better though."
A police spokesman said New Year's Eve revellers at the event were "well behaved" so far, although the type of crowd at the park would change as midnight approached.
The event will mark the start of the new year with fireworks set off from Victoria Lake and a bagpiper playing Auld Lang Syne.
The country's top cop will also be hitting the pavement during the celebrations in Auckland.
Police commissioner Peter Marshall will patrol Auckland for his 40th New Year's Eve at work.
Over the past four decades one thing hasn't changed, he said.
Drunken revellers continue to make silly mistakes.
"They either spoil it for themselves and others, or get reined in. Our staff are often the deciding factor,” he said.
Marshall asked that people enjoy themselves, but also be respectful to each other, and respectful to police.
“We have wonderful men and women working tonight who would otherwise be with their own families. Instead they’re going out to keep other people safe."
The call comes after four attacks on five police officers over the Christmas period.
- Fairfax Media