Internet tycoon Kim Dotcom switched on the lights along Auckland's Franklin Road, famous for its Christmas display.
Thousands of people visit the street in Ponsonby every Christmas.
Kim Dotcom, who is facing copyright piracy charges, told a crowd of about 200 people that he was suprised by the friendly response of members of the public, who asked for pictures to be taken with him, considering he was at the centre of a criminal case.
Elsewhere in Auckland, the largest advent calendar in the country opened on the waterfront as Christmas celebrations began.
Auckland mayor Len Brown opened the first door of the 12 metre high calender, in Silo Park at the Wynyard Quarter on Saturday, revealing an icecream cone.
Each day a new door will open to show a New Zealand Christmas scene, including one which is a specially commissioned work by the artist, Dick Frizzell.
Mr Brown says December 1 doesn't just mark the beginning of summer, but the countdown to Christmas too.
Elsewhere in Auckland the Christmas lights at Franklin Road were switched on at 8pm, well as the 365,000 lights on the Telecom Tree in Victoria Park.