In the Chathams, islanders switched off their diesel generators and turned out the lights. Forty-five minutes later at 8pm, New Zealand time, the SkyTower dimmed above Auckland as punters continued their gaming below - with a little less illumination.

The Australians used to say of New Zealand, "Will the last person to leave please turn out the lights?" Well, last night it happened.

Despite concerns from power companies that the sudden switch-off - and on - posed a risk of dangerous power surges, the Earth Hour movement to switch off the lights for just one hour, once a year, gained momentum.

The golden arches flickered and went out above McDonald's restaurants around the country, while diners at The Langham relied on 1700 natural soy candles.

Fashion designer Karen Walker enjoyed her candlelit dinner at home, and TV3 newsreader Samantha Hayes spent an hour in the dark, thinking about the impact of her lifestyle on the climate.