A mostly well-behaved and festive crowd saw in the New Year in Paihia where a boost in police numbers and an earlier crackdown on public drinking was credited with a drop in disorder and arrests.

What appeared to be a smaller crowd than last year, when 19 people were arrested and police were kept busy for hours breaking up fights, may have also played a part.

The Bay of Islands welcomed 2018 with a fireworks display and a mostly festive, well-behaved crowd

From early in the evening the waterfront from Waitangi to the southern end of Paihia Beach was lined with tourists and families awaiting the midnight fireworks on picnic blankets and camping chairs. A few had tied hammocks in the pohutukawa; one family was cooking dinner on a camping stove.

Police officers, many of them from Auckland, were kept busy confiscating and tipping out liquor. One man watched bereft as police opened and poured out two dozen cans of Cody's he was taking to the beach in a chilly bin.

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The Biggest Little Circus performed on the Village Green until 9.30pm; at midnight a fireworks display paid for by local businesses was launched from a barge moored between Paihia and Russell.

Fireworks are reflected in the water of Veronica Channel as the clock strikes midnight, as seen from the Russell side. New Year fireworks as seen from Russell. PHOTO / STEPHEN WESTERN
Fireworks are reflected in the water of Veronica Channel as the clock strikes midnight, as seen from the Russell side. New Year fireworks as seen from Russell. PHOTO / STEPHEN WESTERN

After the fireworks a small element of the crowd turned ugly, with fights breaking out from about 12.20am on Williams Rd, Selwyn Rd and at Waitangi.

Police arrived quickly and in numbers with the worst offenders cuffed and bundled into police vans.

Senior Sergeant Peter Robinson, of Mid North police, said 10 people — six men and four women — had been arrested as of 2am, on charges including assault on police, disorderly behaviour, fighting and obstruction. All were taken to Kaikohe police station where they were expected to be released later on Monday.

The first arrest, at 10.15pm on Sunday, was a 38-year-old Auckland woman initially spoken to for breaching the liquor ban. She was charged with assaulting police, resisting police and wilful damage, the latter for breaking a door lock inside Paihia police station.

Police also dealt with a number of juveniles for fighting and disorder, later releasing them into their parents' care. Apart from a short period of disorder after the fireworks it was a well-behaved crowd overall, Mr Robinson said.

He put the reduced number of arrests down to more police on the ground and earlier action targeting drinking in public places.

He was unapologetic for officers tipping out revellers' drinks.

''We know that alcohol creates offending and creates victims ... it's better for everyone,'' he said.

Meanwhile, revellers in Northland's south and west were also well-behaved and safe.

Whangarei/Kaipara Area Commander Justin Rogers described a ''very quiet night'' for staff out and about keeping an eye on the celebrations.

The Northern Bass music festival was in its second day of life as the New Year struck but the big night resulted in only one arrest for disorderly behaviour, with a detox thrown in.

There were no problems reported at the packed Kai Iwi Lakes or other popular west coast spots, and only one arrest in Dargaville for disorderly behaviour, again with alcohol involved.

In Whangarei, some bars were busy well after the midnight hour while others had such an uneventful evening they closed by 11.45pm on Sunday night, a Police communications person said.