1 Jan 2012

New Year celebrations see end to 'rough' year

9:58 am on 1 January 2012

New Year's celebrations have been taking place up and down the country as New Zealanders farewell 2011 and welcome the start of 2012.

In Christchurch, around 3,500 people turned out in Hagley Park in overcast but warm weather for their New Year celebrations.

It was a break with tradition since the New Year's event is traditionally held in Cathedral Square - still a no-go area after February's earthquake.

a Radio New Zealand reporter at the event says it was a family-friendly evening and there was a mood of celebration, with Cantabrians keen to put the rough year that was 2011 behind them and look forward to a better 2012.

The city was hit by a 4.8 aftershock on Saturday afternoon, but the shaking stopped for the evening's events.

Dunedin also enjoyed warm summer weather for its celebrations in the Octagon and the biggest crowd in many years turned out to enjoy food stalls, music from local bands and fireworks at midnight.

The weather was not so good in Auckland but thousands still turned out to watch fireworks that were rigged up on the Sky Tower and let off at midnight.

A Radio New Zealand reporter at the scene says low cloud obscured the top of the tower but the fireworks were still visible to the watching crowd.

Warm, fine weather in the Queenstown-Lakes area for New Year's Eve attracted big crowds to celebrations at Queenstown and Wanaka.

A crowd of up to 12,000 people gathered at Queenstown waterfront to hear live bands while some 6,000 people gathered at the lakeside in Wanaka for the celebrations.

The promise of summer weather attracted some people from Nelson and Marlborough to journey south to the warmth and escape the rain that has been dogging the north of the South Island.

With 24-hour liquor banks in place in both town centres, police say the crowds have been well behaved and they had made only one arrest for intoxication.

Some events cancelled

However, the bad weather over parts of the North Island put paid to New Year's Eve party plans in three North Island centres.

Organised events in Wellington, Mt Maunganui and Palmerston North were cancelled and Rotorua's Lakeside concert was moved indoors to the Energy Events Centre.

At Mt Maunganui's main beach, strong onshore winds on Friday and more of the same forecast for Saturday meant organisers considered it too dangerous to erect stages for the planned entertainment and the council announced the event would not go ahead.

A planned fireworks display did go ahead .

Wellington cancelled the entertainment it had planned for the waterfront as well as a fireworks display timed for midnight.

Music festivals go ahead despite weather

The rain eased off for the third and final day of one of the country's largest music festivals, Rhythm and Vines in Gisborne.

Police say the crowd of about 25,000 has been well behaved with only one arrest to date.

Another music festival, Ladeda in the Wairarapa, was expecting to draw a crowd of 10,000 for New Year's Eve despite constant drizzle.

One of the organisers, Mark Kneebone, says about 7,000 people are camping at the farm site near Martinborough and are not being put off by the rain.

He says, while the forecast hadn't been "fantastic" and it's raining, there is no wind, meaning camping is possible.

Mr Kneebone also says Martinborough has not had any rain for about a month and so the ground is hard and the wet conditions have not made a mud bath of the site.