Revellers welcoming in the new year were generally well behaved in Northland but the night was marred by a fatal house fire and drink driving the morning after a night of celebrations.

It was a busy New Year's eve in Northland with events all over the region including the midnight fireworks show in Paihia and Northern Bass in Mangawhai.

Sergeant Ryan Gray said partygoers were generally well behaved.

There were 18 arrests made in Paihia - 16 of those for breaching the liquor ban and other disorders, and one each for assault and aggravated robbery.

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Ten people were arrested in Whangārei for mainly "minor" events, two people were arrested in Bream Bay and five people were arrested in Kaitaia.

There were big crowds in Tutukaka, but no arrests.

"Overall we're pretty happy," Gray said "In general, it was a well behaved, jubilant community."

However, police and fire crews from Rawene, Omapere, Kaikohe and Dargaville spent New Year's Eve at a fatal house fire on Wekaweka Rd in Waimamaku.

Fire crews were called to the blaze about 8.40pm while police were called a couple of hours later. One person died at the scene.

Police said a guard was stationed at the property and a scene examination took place yesterday.

Police and fire were working together to establish the cause of the blaze and were not releasing the person's name until next of kin had been notified.

The last fatal fire in Northland was in Ruakaka in 2015, in which a 79-year-old man died.

Meanwhile, Gray said he was "disappointed" with the number of people drink driving on New Year's day.

He said the driver of a car which crashed into a power pole by Woolleys Bay in Tutukaka, about 4.30am, was believed to have been drinking.

A number of people also failed breath testing at checks around Whangārei.

"This morning's excess breath alcohol readings were disappointing," Gray said.

The midnight fireworks reflected in the Veronica Channel as seen from Russell. Photo/Stephen Western
The midnight fireworks reflected in the Veronica Channel as seen from Russell. Photo/Stephen Western

New Year's Eve celebrations in Paihia were largely good-natured with crowds of families and travellers lining the waterfront to watch the traditional midnight fireworks show.

Compared with previous years the crowds arrived later — at 9pm the streets were still all but deserted — and dissipated earlier.

However, trouble also started earlier with police intervening to break up scuffles along Marsden Rd from about 11.15pm.

In other years fighting has started after midnight.

One of the worst incidents was a fight outside the Marsden Rd toilets about 12.10am involving what witnesses described as two groups of ''wannabe gang members''.

Police moved in quickly, arresting the ringleaders and bundling them into vans for a trip to the cells in Kaikohe.

For the majority of people, however, it was a peaceful celebration dominated by young families and tourists.

Many had spent the evening waiting along the shore south of Maiki Hill for the midnight fireworks, launched from a barge midway between Paihia and Russell, while others had settled in with inflatable couches, camping kitchens and in one case what appeared to be an entire bedroom.

Of the 18 arrests, only two were charged with the rest released on Tuesday morning with pre-charge warnings.

Detective Senior Sergeant Rhys Johnston said taking the offenders to Kaikohe police cells was an effective deterrent.

''They don't seem to like being taken to Kaikohe until 6am. They aren't necessarily charged, they just get to enjoy our company for five or six hours. It's a good preventive measure.''

As in other years alcohol was the main concern with multiple warnings issued for breaching the town's liquor ban. Most people complied with police instructions to tip out their drinks.

About 30 police were on duty in Paihia, 14 from Auckland and the rest from across Northland.

In some areas people were able to enjoy a good family atmosphere until midnight.

Festivities started with a show by the Biggest Little Circus on the Village Green in the early evening. From 10pm until about 2am members of Paihia's Baptist Church set up a free sausage sizzle to help counteract the effects of alcohol.

Pastor James Stead said church members enjoyed being part of the community and sharing blessings. By providing food they also hoped to reduce intoxication levels, he said.

Police closed Marsden Rd to traffic between Bayview Rd and School Rd from about 10.30pm.