More fireworks than Guy Fawkes night, and plenty of Chinese lanterns to boot, kept firefighters busy in the Bay of Plenty coastal resort town of Waihi Beach as revellers celebrated the New Year.

Waihi Beach volunteer firefighters have only one fire truck but received three calls around midnight.

One was to a large blaze at the top of the hill at Bowentown, south of Waihi, while the other two were in sandhills, where fireworks and Chinese lanterns caused fires in the tinder dry grasses.

Waihi Beach fire chief Ian Smith said appliances from Waihi, Athenree and rural firefighters were all called to fires which could have been avoided.

He said there were more fireworks let off last night than on Guy Fawkes night and people did not seem to understand how dangerous it was after high winds in the past few days sucked all the moisture out of the growth on the sand hills, making them tinder dry.

One of the sandhill fires, at Three Mile Creek just south of the township, took about three hours to bring under control and put out. The other was in the sandhills near the Waihi Beach Surf Lifesaving Club.

The fire at Bowentown appeared to be deliberately lit and a four-wheel drive-tanker was needed to get water to the fire.

Mr Smith, who also runs two holiday camps at the beach, said people gave no thought to how dangerous fireworks could be.

"We had neighbours letting off fireworks right beside tents with no regard to the fallout on nylon tents

"They were going off everywhere."

It did not take any effort to walk a few metres to the beach and let fireworks off safely, he said.

The new year also got off to a fiery start in Piha, Mahia and Christchurch.

RadioLive reported fireworks to celebrate the New Year sparked an 8ha scrub fire at Auckland's Piha beach.

Firefighters and two helicopters with monsoon buckets were battling the blaze, which had engulfed the north Piha hillside.

A scrub fire at Mahia, south of Gisborne, also started around midnight.

Further south, several Christchurch homes were evacuated this morning after a boiler fire at Moffatt's Flower Company about 5am.

Firefighters had to be decomtaminated after the fire spread to chemicals, and several homes neighbouring the flower-growing business were evacuated.

- NZPA