Hundreds gather at Memorial Gates

Anzac commemorations in the Wakatipu began with the second consecutive dawn service at the Queenstown Memorial Gates - where people stood to remember the fallen and those who returned from wars.

Queenstown Anzac Day slideshow here

Later, the gates were again a gathering place and the starting point for the annual parade to the Queenstown Memorial Centre.

Once the crowd of hundreds was seated, the resort's Returned and Services' Association (RSA) president Dave Geddes thanked the ''large contingent'' of the Australian Defence Force who were present beside New Zealand service representatives.

The horror of the World War 1 was recounted, with Mr Geddes saying few of the early war volunteers could have rightly imagined what was ''really in store for them when they reached that battlefield''.

But, ''the volunteers still queued to serve their King and country''.

Guest speaker Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden told the crowd that throughout life we learn lessons, ''but the vast majority of us'' would never learn what it is ''to look terror in the face'' as the Anzacs did.

She paid tribute to the soldiers - ''every one of them a hero'' - who had ''allowed us the luxury of living as we do''.

Towards the end of the service, Queenstown musician Craig Smith sat half hidden in the darkness with white crosses and red poppies at his feet, to delicately perform a poignant song he had written specially for the occasion.

After the Australian and New Zealand national anthems were sung, the service briefly shifted outdoors where the flag was lowered, then raised, and various organisations placed wreaths under the permanent stainless steel artwork of a soldier looking over a fellow soldier's grave.

Villagers and visitors politely jostled to squeeze into the Arrowtown Athenaeum Hall for the Arrowtown Anzac Day Memorial Service, despite the ancillary supper room being opened to allow more seats.

Arrowtown RSA president John Lindsay welcomed all to the service and the Rev Ian Guy presided.

Arrowtown School pupils Natty Raymond and Bella Gill read extracts from the oral history archives of the Lakes District Museum.

Members of the Arrowtown School Choir led the gathering in singing Hymn for Anzac Day and the national anthem.

Queenstown lawyer Graeme Todd, as guest speaker, described the personal connections he had over the years with World War 1, specifically his research into the war service of his grandfather, Ernest Morris, who died when the lawyer was 4.

Mr Todd told the congregation how he pieced together his grandfather's training in England and his deployment at the Western Front.

During a family holiday to Europe, Mr Todd retraced the steps of his grandfather to Ypres, scene of three battles in World War 1, and described what he saw and felt at the Menin Gate Memorial.

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