Thousands of people have braved the rain for Auckland's annual Santa Parade.
Moments after the parade began in Auckland's central city streets the skies opened and rain began bucketing down.
While the crowds momentarily thinned most came prepared with umbrellas and raincoats and many packed into the covered areas on Queen St.
Despite the rain the mood was in indeed festive, with wide smiles and plenty of cheers as a diverse array of floats came by.
Santa was of course the winner, but in close second was Peppa Pig, a giant helium float from Canada.
For Lena and Pierre Mueller, and their two daughters Zoey, 4, and Emily, 2, it was their first Christmas and Santa Parade in their new home of Auckland, arriving from Singapore in January.
"It is so special to be able to be outside and celebrating Christmas," said Lena, who is originally from Germany.
"Back home in Germany all of the Christmas festivals have been cancelled, so family and friends are very jealous to hear about this and see photos. We feel very lucky to be in New Zealand."
For Zoey and Emily, Santa Claus was the main attraction, but they were quite intrigued by Peppa Pig also.
While fears around Covid-19 had not put the family off attending, the forecast of rain had raised a few concerns but they were glad they came, seeking shelter under the Queen St shopfronts.
Veteran parade organiser Pam Glaser, who is running her 32nd parade, says this year's event has drawn media interest from as far afield as China and Germany because it will be "one of the few Christmas parades happening internationally this year".
"They are delighted that there is some Christmas cheer," she said.
Earlier organisers said there would be just one QR code to cover all sections of the parade, which is expected to draw more than 100,000 people.
Spectators had to wear masks if they come into town on public transport, but were free to take their masks off if they choose to while they watch the parade.
QR codes would be stuck on lamp posts throughout the route, which starts at the corner of Vincent St and Mayoral Drive behind the Aotea Centre at 1pm, runs down Queen St and finishes in Customs St East at about 2.30pm.
"We took advice from the Ministry of Health and they said we need one QR code because, for example, if someone views the parade in Mayoral Drive but walks down Queen St to get a bus, their footprint is across the whole parade route," Glaser said.
Organisers were upbeat, despite predictions of showers through the day.
"The weather might lower numbers but we are really looking forward to it," said Michael Barnett, who chairs the Santa Parade organisation.
"It is still a great chance to celebrate Christmas and get into the festive mood. The parade must go on."
Covid had produced an unexpected bonus for Auckland's parade - a giant helium-filled Peppa Pig from Canada, who has never been available before.
"It's been impossible for us to secure her for the parade previously because she has been in all the Thanksgiving parades. Now that they are not taking place, she's free to come to us for the first time," Glaser said.
TVNZ Seven Sharp presenter Hilary Barry, fresh from being voted the nation's favourite TV personality, was to lead off the parade, taking the role of Grand Marshal for the first time.
All inner-city roads will be closed between 11am and 5pm.
Free parking will be available in the Downtown and Victoria St parking buildings for vehicles parked before 11am and leaving between 2pm and 6pm.
Public transport is free on weekends for children aged 5 to 15 with registered AT Hop cards.