Huge crowds turned out for today's Anzac Day services across Hawke's Bay with some veterans describing the numbers as among the largest they had seen.

At the Dawn Service in Napier, staged at the Sound Shell, the colonnade area was packed as were nearby footpaths and a large stretch of the closed-off northern end of Marine Parade.

One of the guest speakers at the service, Royal New Zealand Navy Commodore David Proctor, paused briefly before his address and looked toward the sea.

"We see the awesome sunrises of the Bay - and we remember the Gallipoli sunrise."


He spoke of the mateship and comradeship of the services, and how they were strongly embraced today by families and communities - that was evident looking out across the faces in the crowd, which some estimated to be about 6000 strong.
All ages were represented.

Toddlers, some in push-chairs, children, teenagers, young and old - and the poppies were clearly evident.

Commodore Proctor told of the sacrifices made 100 years ago at Gallipoli, and touched on the fact that it is the 100th year since the New Zealand Expeditionary Force arrived on the Western Front in Europe - another component of a war which would take the lives of 18,000 Kiwis.

New Zealand Army Colonel Ian MacDonald told of how while at Gallipoli for last year's centennial commemorations he saw for himself the harshness of the conditions - "where they lived, fought and died".

He also spoke of the remarkable bond which war had woven between the people of New Zealand and the people of Turkey.

As Colonel MacDonald spoke the glow on the horizon drew out the silhouette of the waka which sailed in close to shore and at the conclusion of the services carried out a traditional salute - opening and closing the sails and blowing of the pukaea/conch.

Mark Gregg, visiting from Australia, described the service and the glowing sunrise over the sea as "something I will never forget - it was just lump in the throat stuff, it really was".

There were also big early morning crowds for the service at the Hastings Cenotaph and the Lone Pine Memorial in Taradale.