Gone is the come-hither finger and the sloped, winking eye.

After weeks of speculation, the wraps over Santa's face have come off to reveal a younger, motionless, jolly fat man perched atop the Whitcoulls building on Queen St.

Hundreds of Aucklanders and tourists stood waiting yesterday afternoon to see Santa's new face.

Trapeze artists Eve Gordon and Beth Kayes, dressed as elves, cut away the wraps to reveal a new smile, freshly painted skin and bright blue eyes.

Two 14.5m-high reindeer have been stationed on either side of him and large gifts placed at Santa's feet. The reindeer are modelled on the originals on Farmers' old Hobson St building.

Georgia Sinclair, 7, said, "I like it. He looks different. I also liked the dancing elves."

But for David Bevan there was nostalgia for the old Santa and his creepy finger. "I miss the winking eye and dodgy finger," he said. "Now he just does nothing."

Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney said the "plastic surgery" project proved a mammoth effort.

"Santa is not exactly a spring chicken - he first graced the Farmers building in Hobson St in 1960."

The restoration project cost more than $100,000. Mr Swney said Aucklanders were asked last year if they wanted Santa to return for 2009 and they voted overwhelmingly in favour. "But we have also taken on board some suggestions and comments from various parties.

"He's a much more jovial character that better fits the Christmas theme."