Kiwis around the country have flocked to bars, restaurants, music festivals and waterfront vantage points to catch stunning fireworks displays tonight and celebrate the New Year.

Mostly fine weather is helping partygoers see in 2019.

But as the booze begins to flow freely around the country and behaviour rapidly descends into revelry, Kiwi emergency services are "gearing up" for their most demanding night of the year.

Fireworks at midnight from the Sky Tower as Auckland's Harbour Bridge lights up during New Year's Eve celebrations. Photo / Doug Sherring
Fireworks at midnight from the Sky Tower as Auckland's Harbour Bridge lights up during New Year's Eve celebrations. Photo / Doug Sherring

With emergency 111 ambulance calls projected to triple tonight, St John has over 105 additional frontline personal, and 80 additional response vehicles at the ready across New Zealand.

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A third of those calls will be alcohol-related, with the peak hours of 10pm to 2am expected to see paramedics responding to around 500 callouts.

An early New Year's headache for St John came around 8pm tonight, with the discovery of drugs made with pesticides and paints at Gisborne's Rhythm and Vines festival.

A push-notification to festival-goers' phones was issued notifying them of the health risk, after the drugs were seized today. The were found in a car by security in fake MDMA pills.

Fun for all the family

Auckland's fireworks are proving a star draw card for families and visitors to the city as a constant stream of people wander the Wynyard Quarter waterfront.

With the city skyline as a back drop and the sound of grooving Latino tunes coming from the bars, partygoers are building towards midnight by drinking in groups at footpath tables, while children whish past on scooters followed by their parents.

Families enjoy the atmosphere of the Wondergarden festival during Auckland New Year's Eve celebrations. Photo / Getty Images
Families enjoy the atmosphere of the Wondergarden festival during Auckland New Year's Eve celebrations. Photo / Getty Images
Pictured are Emma Ferguson, Danielle Barton and Natalie Reilly at Federal Street. Photo / Doug Sherring
Pictured are Emma Ferguson, Danielle Barton and Natalie Reilly at Federal Street. Photo / Doug Sherring
The Sky Tower fireworks display begins with the Harbour Bridge in the foreground. Photo / Doug Sherring
The Sky Tower fireworks display begins with the Harbour Bridge in the foreground. Photo / Doug Sherring

Wynyard Quarter is also a hotspot for tourists with cameras in hand, while couples also pass by arm-in-arm looking for a quiet spot to sit ahead of the sky lighting up at midnight.

Sydneysider Brad Harris said he had flown across the ditch to meet an old mate he hasn't seen in 20 years.

The pair were drinking at an outside table at North Park on the waterfront with the in-house band playing behind them.

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"It's fantastic down here - full of people, good service, top atmosphere and a great band," Harris said.

Rhythm and Vines crowds. Photo / Gisborne Herald
Rhythm and Vines crowds. Photo / Gisborne Herald

Having lived in Singapore for a year, he said they chose the bar not only for its atmosphere but for the Tiger beer on tap.

"It's a great way to spend time with an old mate," he said.

Nikau Chater, 11, performs with Ian Pirrie during Rotorua's GLO Fest. Photo / Stephen Parker
Nikau Chater, 11, performs with Ian Pirrie during Rotorua's GLO Fest. Photo / Stephen Parker

Anastasia Ermakova, 16, and her dad were among those gathering along Auckland's waterfront, keen to welcome in the New Year.

New Year's Eve celebrations at Federal Street Auckland. Photo / Doug Sherring
New Year's Eve celebrations at Federal Street Auckland. Photo / Doug Sherring

Perched on a ledge near the waterfront silos watching the crowds and Lime scooters pass by, she said they had driven up from Hamilton for the night to soak up the atmosphere.

"We're here for the fireworks and to see what is on," Ermakova said.

"So far it's been pretty chill."

One of the hottest destinations in Wynyard Quarter tonight is the Gelatiamo ice cream shop where a long queue snakes outside.Rish Subhani, her husband and three kids were among those chowing down on sorbet cones outside.

The family from the Waitakere Ranges in West Auckland normally stay home each New Year's, roasting marshmallows in a fire.But this year after being struck down by a stomach bug for four days over Christmas they decided to go out for the fireworks.

They had wandered from Brittomart to Wynyard Quarter and now planned to find a spot at the Viaduct to watch the fireworks.

"There was a food market over there so we thought we'd help ourselves to that and the ice cream was good," she said.

The only debate so far has been whether her homebody husband and 9-month-old son could make it all the way to midnight.

"He's happy as Larry and wide awake so we might as well make the most of it," she said.

Henrique Domingos and his wife Jeniffer were about to fly home after six months in Auckland studying English.

The Brazilian couple from Curitiba had just driven around the country in a campervan and were keen to catch the fireworks with friends and enjoy their final days in the country.

"It's been great here as a cultural exchange, meeting many people and making friends," he said.

"And tonight there is a fun atmosphere."

Harley Watane was less impressed with the festivities.

He had driven in from Manukau with his wife and two young daughters to see the fireworks.

He also planned to entertain them ahead of the fireworks by taking them to the playground near the silos, only to discover it had been cordoned off as part of the Wondergarden New Year's Eve event with tickets costing $110 per adult and $50 for kids.

"That means it would cost our family $320 to use the free playground," he said.

He said he and his wife were now bamboozled by how they could entertain their daughters for the rest of the night until the fireworks started.

People attend the Wynyard Quarter celebrations on Auckland's waterfront. Photo / Ben Leahy
People attend the Wynyard Quarter celebrations on Auckland's waterfront. Photo / Ben Leahy

"We're at a loss as to how to entertain them for three hours now," he said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people have gathered at Little Shoal Bay on the North Shore to watch the midnight fireworks display which will by synchronized with a light display on the Harbour Bridge.

'The night we gear up the most'

St John's Auckland acting district operations manager John Armitt said he was hoping because today was overcast it may slightly subdue wild behaviour tonight.

"At these events, if it's a very fine night people get a bit more adventurous, but if it's a wet night that sometime slows people down," Armitt said.

"Intoxicated people make it a bit more difficult for us to manage them, especially if they're in large groups, it's hard to get stories off patients, it's hard to assess them.

"It's definitely the night we gear up for the most."

Auckland Wondergarden music festival at Silo Park, December 31, 2018.
Auckland Wondergarden music festival at Silo Park, December 31, 2018.

The Auckland District Health Board is expecting 350 patients to present to emergency departments over the 24 hour New Year's period.

But it will pay to be selective about what ailment you present to ER with because doctors will be strictly "prioritising patients based on clinical need", an Auckland DHB spokesperson said.

In Auckland, the big events will all have emergency service presence including: Highlife music event at Northcote Wharf, So Hotel NYE rooftop party on Customs St, Wondergarden festival at Silo park, and AMU creative art festival at South Head.

SkyCity casino's Federal St party from 8pm was also a priority, with the traditional midnight fireworks from its tower.

St John will also be chipping in at Auckland City, North Shore, and Middlemore hospitals helping restock ambulances that have docked there with more supplies, so they can get back in the field quicker.

A Reveller enjoys the waterslide at Rhythm and Vines. Photo / Gisborne Herald
A Reveller enjoys the waterslide at Rhythm and Vines. Photo / Gisborne Herald

The country's biggest New Year's music festival, Rhythm & Vines, was also an emergency hotspot - with 21,000 festival goers there tonight to ring in the new year.

St John's head paramedic stationed at the Gisborne music festival, Shane Clapperton, said they had already treated 700 people at the festival so far. The festival started on December 28.

"The last two nights have been busy for us, but 95 per cent of it is minor," Clapperton said, who has worked at all 16 Rhythm & Vines festivals.

"We've seen people who have overindulged in alcohol and drugs but we've been able to look after those people on site at our medical tent.

"We've probably been a little bit busier but a lot of it's minor. I think these modern generations all need Mum and Dad, so we've become that. Fix the boo boos."

Clapperton said four people were transported to hospital due to injures for falls.

Rhythm & Vines St John workers Kate Haddock and Maddy Dawson said intoxication actually seemed to be less of an issue this year.

"The culture has changed and people are enjoying themselves more," said Haddock.

Security checkpoints had helped reduce drunken behaviour, Dawson said.

"I have a 19-year-old sister here. I don't want her doing what I did at 19."

Gisborne local Matthew Tyson was one fully embracing the Rhythm & Vines festivities having painted himself blue along with a group of mates.

"This is my 10th year here in a row," said Tyson. "We just wish there were more bands than DJs."

However, around 8pm tonight a warning was issued from Rhythm & Vines organisers that drugs containing industrial paint compounds, pesticides and other dangerous compounds had been seized.

"Customer safety is paramount so making them aware that there are some dangerous substances, found in drugs and letting them know what to do should they feel sick or require medical attention," a festival spokesman told Stuff.

It was also a horror day on New Zealand's roads, in which one person died and nine were hospitalised, in five separate crashes.

Police and NZ Transport Agency put out a joint statement reminding motorists not to stop on the Auckland Harbour Bridge to watch the midnight fireworks - threatening fines up to $600.

In previous years, police said they attended a number of crashes and near-misses
on the Harbour Bridge and on motorway breakdown lanes on the approach to the
Bridge.

Elsewhere, Tauranga turned on a mild and overcast evening to welcome in 2019.

Not so long ago a traditional spot for New Year's Eve revelry and drunken public disorder, in recent years it has been relatively quiet with no city-sanctioned events in packed holidaymaker hotspot Mount Maunganui.

Rhythm and Vines crowds enjoy the vibes. Photo / Gisborne Herald
Rhythm and Vines crowds enjoy the vibes. Photo / Gisborne Herald

There will be an increased police presence in the beach suburb and authorities have cited public safety as the reason for fencing off both Mount Drury and Leisure Island and preparing to light up the beach itself.

Meanwhile, people are beginning to trickle into Tauranga City Council's family-friendly events on the CBD waterfront, in Pāpāmoa and, for the first time, in Matua, with fireworks planned for 9.30pm in those locations, and citywide at midnight.

Clare and Craig Williamson, with daughters Eden, 5, and Jade, 3, were among the first to arrive at the celebrations on Tauranga's waterfront.

Ten thousand young music lovers have also enjoyed perfect summer weather at the Rhythm and Alps Music Festival in the Cardrona Valley, near Wanaka, today.

The festival is the eighth for organiser Alex Turnbull who said there was demand from festival-goers for it to be eco-friendly.

"It's an immaculate, very clean festival site - the cleanest we've seen," Turnbull said.

Early rain in Dunedin has cleared and organisers are gearing up for an evening of music, dancing and a five-minute New Year's fireworks display in the Octagon tonight.

New Year's Eve celebrations with Jupiter Project performing at Federal Street in Auckland. Photo / Doug Sherring
New Year's Eve celebrations with Jupiter Project performing at Federal Street in Auckland. Photo / Doug Sherring

Dunedin City Council community events co-ordinator Marilyn Anderson said performers Dee May and the Saints, and Kelvin Cummings and the Oxo Cubans, would entertain the crowds prior to the countdown to midnight.

As many as 15,000 people were expected to see in the New Year in Queenstown, with bands and DJs performing on two stages downtown at Earnslaw Park and a fireworks display from a barge planed in the bay at midnight.