Ninety thousand LED lights and a soundtrack celebrating the City of Sails' rich cultural vibrancy wowed Aucklanders last night.

As the solar-powered Vector Lights unleashed its majestic beauty over the Auckland Harbour Bridge at 9.10pm, thousands of people who crammed viewing points around the city embraced the stunning spectacular.

Scores of boaties took to the harbour to get an even more special view of the show.

People described the display as "pretty damn cool", "fantastic", "brilliant".

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Spectators at Hinemoa Park, Birkenhead. Photo / Peter Meecham
Spectators at Hinemoa Park, Birkenhead. Photo / Peter Meecham

The display was also a hit online, with thousands watching via Vector's livestream on Facebook.

The bridge was illuminated by 90,000 LED lights and 200 floodlights during the six-minute sequence, featuring original music and gorgeous lighting effects.

The show was repeated every half hour from 9.30pm until midnight, and the same will happen tonight and Monday. It is believed to be the first major bridge in the world to have lighting come entirely from solar power, drawing energy from 630 panels installed on top of North Wharf in downtown's Wynyard Quarter.

The brilliant sight and sound show was a celebration of the vibrancy of Auckland's richly diverse cultures, featuring Polynesian drumming and imagery inspired by tukutuku panelling — the traditional designs used to decorate marae.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford look on at Little Shoal Bay during the official launch party. Photo / Getty Images
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford look on at Little Shoal Bay during the official launch party. Photo / Getty Images

It also referenced Tama-Nui te Ra (the sun), Hikohiko (electrical energy), and Hei te Ao Marama (the future world of light).

Before the lights were turned on, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff celebrated the fact the Vector Lights project was environmentally friendly.

"The challenge that existed here wasn't just how do we light up a bridge ... at its root was how do we do that and make it sustainable," Ardern said. She added that climate change was a massive threat, but New Zealand had a great chance to create itself "as clean, green and carbon neutral".

Spectators watch the Auckland Harbour Bridge is lit up as part of the Vector Lights performance. Photo / Peter Meecham
Spectators watch the Auckland Harbour Bridge is lit up as part of the Vector Lights performance. Photo / Peter Meecham

Goff said the solar powered light display was a statement to the world that "Auckland leads sustainability".

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Creative director Jonny Kofoed was hopeful viewers wouldn't be disappointed.

"Because the bridge can be viewed from so many different angles, you get quite different experiences depending on where you are."

Photo / Supplied by Chris Weissenborn
Photo / Supplied by Chris Weissenborn

And like the Sky Tower changes colour in support of events through the year, the bridge will be programmed to celebrate special occasions, including Waitangi Day and the Pride festival next month, and the Lantern Festival in March.

The project is part of a 10-year energy efficiency partnership between power company Vector and Auckland Council.