Chinese New Year celebrations and Auckland Nines are highlights.

Aucklanders are spoilt for choice this weekend with events including Waitangi Day celebrations and commemorations, the Chinese New Year, the Pride festival and the league nines competition at Eden Park.

Several Waitangi Day festivals are planned around the city, including at Bastion Pt, which the organisers say will proceed "in most weather conditions". They promise a family-focused event, with performers, giant kites, food stalls and art and craft.

The Auckland Pride Festival runs from today until February 21 and was to be marked last night by the lighting of the Sky Tower and Auckland Museum. Pride events include the Auckland Queer Film Festival, the Pride Dog Show in Ponsonby on Sunday and the Big Gay Out at Coyle Park in Pt Chevalier on February 14.

SkyCity in Auckland has lion-dancing, acrobatic performances, monkey-making balloon artists, lanterns and more to celebrate the Chinese New Year for 16 days. The events begin on Sunday evening, the Chinese New Year's Eve with free performances, and firecrackers to ward off evil spirits and encourage a successful year. A lantern display willadorn Federal St from February 13 to 22.

Stephen Oates gets Murphy (left) and Ruby ready for the Auckland Pride dog show. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Stephen Oates gets Murphy (left) and Ruby ready for the Auckland Pride dog show. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Monday will be the biggest day for celebration, with the auspicious "painting of the eye ceremony" to attract good luck in 2016, the Year of the Monkey. The Chinese God of Fortune will descend from the Sky Tower to give guests "lucky red envelopes".

At Eden Park, the gates open tomorrow at 11.30am for a 12.30 match start in the Downer NRL Auckland Nines.

The sun will make occasional holiday weekend appearances, but not until after a low-pressure system dumps bursts of heavy rain on to the upper North Island today.

A severe weather watch is in place for today and tomorrow from Northland to Waikato and the Bay of Plenty.

A strong northeasterly is forecast to deliver doses of rain or showers from this morning and through the long weekend in Northland and from this afternoon until Sunday in Auckland, especially north of Orewa and about the Hunua hills and Great Barrier Island. In the Coromandel region, rain is expected from today, clearing to cloudy periods from Sunday.

Temperatures should reach the mid-20s in most upper North Island areas.

The Transport Agency is warning of delays at congestion hot-spots from 1.30pm today and is urging motorists to travel outside peak times.

Vehicle numbers on some main roads such as State Highway 1 between Auckland and Waikato and State Highway 2 between Paeroa and Tauranga "are estimated to more than double as people race to relax on the beach this long weekend", said the agency's journey manager, Nigel D'Ath.

Long-weekend events

• Chinese New Year's Eve festivities from 7pm Sunday at SkyCity Auckland, with free performances accompanied by firecrackers.

• Auckland Nines competition, Eden Park, tomorrow and Sunday.

• Waitangi Day family day celebrations, Hayman Park, Manukau, tomorrow, 10am-5pm, featuring Savage and other acts.

• Waitangi Day festival, Bastion Pt, Auckland, tomorrow, 10am-6pm.

• Waitangi@Waititi, Hoani Waititi Marae, West Coast Rd, Oratia, tomorrow, 9.30am-4pm.

• Woof: the Auckland Pride Dog Show, Western Park, Ponsonby, 2pm Sunday.

• NZ Soul All Dayer, featuring soul musicians and DJs, Silo Park, Wynyard Quarter, tomorrow, noon-6pm.