Revellers are starting to pack out bars and party hot-spots as New Zealand prepares to farewell 2016 – and welcome in 2017.
Fine weather in most of the country’s main centres and popular holiday destinations – including the Bay of Plenty, Bay of Islands and the Coromandel – has helped increase spirits ahead of the big night.
At Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour, the punters and publicans were already getting into the New Year’s groove by 5.30pm.
O’Hagans Irish Bar already had in excess of 150 people and duty manager Callum Bryden was expecting one of the busiest nights of the year, perhaps only second to St Patrick’s Day.
“It’ll probably start picking up around 9pm and we’ll have in excess of 300 people at any given time.
“We’ve got the band from 10 ’til 1am and we’ve got a prime location [to watch] the Sky Tower with the fireworks, so we’ll potentially be close to stopping people coming in by midnight because it’ll be that packed.”
He didn’t expect too much of a problem with people getting drunk and disorderly. “Generally people are just out to have a good time so hopefully it’ll be the same again. But we’ve got plenty of security on in case.” Sara Twister was hoping to earn a few bucks out of the revelry in a different way.
The acrobat was setting up her archery show – “I shoot a bow and arrow with my feet” – next to the Wynyard Quarter bridge. “This is our job so we aim for the times when people are out and about.” She said New Year’s crowds were generally good fun, but had no doubt she’d have to deal with the odd obnoxious drunkard. “Oh yeah, of course there’ll always be a few but you learn to brush it off – it’s part of the trade.”
Rob Dickens and his two mates were gearing up for the Wondergardens music festival at Silo Park. He’d learned from previous New Year’s Eves that it was always a good idea to lower one’s expectations. “Overall New Year’s is a bit overblown. You tend to go into it with high expectations and they’re usually disappointed. So we’re trying to have a moderate point of view and whatever’s good’s good.”
Down the other end of Wynyard Quarter, Andy Coles was less philosophical. “I’m gonna get slaughtered.” Auckland’s big New Year celebrations are spear-headed by the annual fireworks display set off from the Sky Tower. More than 500kg of explosives are set to be ignited during the spectacular show. In the two hours before midnight a Kiwi-themed laser animation will be beamed across the tower.
The Sky Tower also has a 15m x 15m countdown clock running in the lead-in to midnight.