Weather fails to sour Otago's NY celebrations

A large walk-up crowd swelled the numbers of revellers celebrating New Year's Eve festivities in central Dunedin.

Rain earlier in the day failed to deter the hundreds of people who gathered from 8pm to watch the live entertainment in the Octagon.

As the Civic Centre clock came closer to midnight those numbers grew in the thousands, as they welcomed 2013 with a mass countdown, and the firing of the Robbie Burns cannon.

While wind forced the cancellation of Wellington's New Year's Eve fireworks display, a calm Dunedin night resulted in the city welcoming 2013 with a bang.

The city's $10,000 fireworks display from the Civic Centre roof was expected to last seven minutes but was over in five; not that the large crowd cared.

Organisers hoped fine weather would attract a crowd of around 20,000 to the annual celebrations, and they would be delighted with the 17degC summer's evening as every available space became full of eager spectators.

Dunedin Police Senior Sergeant Bruce Ross said, as of midnight, police had made only four arrests, ''but the night is young''.

In Queenstown, despite an earlier threat of cancellation owing to weather, the New Year fireworks display went ahead, book-ended by steam whistles from the Earnslaw.

Thousands of revellers in the resort refused to let poor weather sour their start to 2013, and blustery winds abated enough to let the fireworks display proceed, though rain continued to fall.

The town's streets were earlier teeming with people heading for packed bars, restaurants, clubs and cafes.

Police had been bolstered in advance by the usual contingent of about 50 staff from around the Southern district for New Year's Eve. Uniformed officers are keeping a highly visible profile downtown in groups on foot and in marked and unmarked vehicles.

Earlier, live acts did their best to keep the spirits of chilled revellers up, beginning with youth band the Fletcherz, with their set of crowd pleasing rock and roll covers from the playbooks of the Strokes, Nirvana, the Rolling Stones and many more, including their own material, from 7.30pm.

The glamorous Wakatipu trio of women known as the Sequin Sisters chimed in with a set packed with disco anthems.

In Wanaka, thousands of mainly young people gathered in the centre of town to listen to local bands and wait for the midnight fireworks display.

A little light rain fell as the clock ticked towards midnight but did nothing to disrupt celebrations. By 10.30pm Wanaka police reported just one arrest - for a breach of the liquor ban in central Wanaka.

Blustery conditions were blamed for a smaller crowd at the Clyde Street Party, where a band entertained a crowd estimated at 1000 before a piper ushered in the new year.

In South Otago, about 350 people braved drizzle and gathered at the foreshore in Pounawea to welcome the new year.

Sheep racing, a barbecue and a live band kept the crowd entertained until the fireworks at midnight.