Party, party, party - it's the great leap into 2011

By James Ihaka, Wayne Thompson, Amelia Wade

The Auckland skyline is lit up with fireworks to celebrate the arrival of 2011. Photo / Dean Purcell
The Auckland skyline is lit up with fireworks to celebrate the arrival of 2011. Photo / Dean Purcell

Thousands of New Year revellers are in recovery mode today after welcoming in the New Year at celebrations throughout New Zealand last night.

Partygoers packed the traditional hotspots to ring in the last day of 2010. But early indications last night were that liquor bans were doing their job and most people were reasonably well behaved.

Today, some of those partygoers will make the long journey home, while others plan on spending the first day of 2011 in the sun, or in some cases repeating yesterday's festivities all over again.

By 7.30 last night, police at the northern communications centre said there was "absolutely nothing happening anywhere", despite large numbers gathering at various places.

In Auckland, excitment was building on the waterfront before a spectacular fireworks display planned by New Zealand-based German businessman Kim Schmitz.

Two thousand shells of fireworks were to be set off at midnight on two barges in the Waitemata Harbour.

Papakura woman Jo Barraud and her sister Diane Weaver of Te Puke were among the hundreds gathered at Viaduct Harbour.

They had enjoyed a family dinner before moving on to get a good view of one of the fireworks barges, said Mrs Barraud, who was making up for spending last New Year's Eve in hospital with a broken wrist.

Said her husband, Marty: "We love coming into this part of town for New Year's Eve. There is always something happening and it's a lovely atmosphere."

On board the luxury charter vessel Olympic Spirit, skipper Mark Brewin was preparing for his 14th New Year's Eve celebrations on the Waitemata Harbour.

He was taking a party of 60 to join the spectator fleet vying in the south-west breeze for the best views of the anchored fireworks barges.

In Gisborne, 22,000 people rang in the New Year at the Rhythm and Vines festival, where fireworks, pyrotechnics and a laser show were scheduled to wow the crowd on the stroke of midnight.

Festival-goers made the most of the clear skies and warm temperature as they prepared for a big night.

Jordan Williams, 21, was excited about his New Year's Eve, but was also thinking about the long trip home today.

"I'll start my day with 'Wow!' then a groan. Then slowly but surely we'll pack the car for the seven-hour trip home to Auckland."

Senior Sergeant Maui Aben of Gisborne police said early last night that the Rhythm and Vines revellers were behaving themselves.

"We haven't had any dramas at all. It's a very well organised event and the security staff look after the crowd very well, which makes life for the police a lot easier."

Mr Aben said police were well prepared, but were not expecting any problems.

St John staff stationed at the festival also noticed how well the crowd was behaving.

Manager Shane Clapperton said staff were mostly treating people for minor things such as "bumps, bruises and headaches", some sprains and fractures. They were also helping people who had drunk too much or taken too many substances.

The medical staff also treated one unusual case - of homesickness.

"A young girl came and saw us because she was homesick. So we just sat her down and had a chat with her and then sent her on her way. I think she just needed a bit of a cry."

At Mt Maunganui, stages were set up on the beach and nearby for bands to help welcome in the New Year.

Western Bay of Plenty police commander Inspector Mike Clement said arrests had been made, mainly for disorderly behaviour and breaches of liquor bans, and numbers were on a par with previous years.

But police were generally pleased with people's attitudes.

Mr Clement said extra officers had been brought in from elsewhere in the Bay of Plenty, Counties Manukau and the central North Island.

He said police would take a "very hard line" against people breaching liquor bans.

They would also be out in force on the roads.

Among those enforcing the liquor bans was Bill Hazeldine, one of dozens of volunteers in Mt Maunganui.

The 77-year-old said early last night that this New Year's Eve was the quietest in recent memory, with little trouble and general acceptance of the strict policing.

"It gets quieter every year. It's a much more family-oriented place these days."

Enjoying the festivities with at least 20 of his old schoolmates was Francois Keelan, drinking beer at his two-bedroom bach.

Mr Keelan said that when he woke up today, the first thing he would do would be jump into the pool on his lawn with his infant son, Anaru.

"Then we'll spark up the barbie and it's all on again."

- NZ Herald

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