New Year celebrations are under way as Kiwis say ‘see ya later 2020’

There is a happy hum across many parts of the country this evening as New Year celebrations get under way.

In Auckland relaxed partygoers are enjoying a variety of music and activities on offer with many sprawled across the grass by the water’s edge at Silo Park where Che Fu has started DJ-ing.

Che Fu has told the crowd it has been a year of extremities.

“All my blessing to you and yours,” he said.”2021 is going to be a good one – I promise.
See ya later 2020.”

Alina Manu and her mother, Nane Manu, are among the crowd at Wynyard Viaduct. They headed down for lunch, heard the music and were drawn to the celebrations.

“We’ve been here since 3pm just vibing,” Alina said.”2020 has been challenging to say the least.”

But things can only go up from here, she said.She is hopeful she can resume travelling next year but isn’t too fussed if she can’t.

She said she is just grateful for how the country has handled the pandemic and that events like this can happen for the community.

North Shore residents Elizabeth Salinas and her children, Sergio Minota, 16, and Karen Minota, 21, are also enjoying the music.

Sergio said he was hopeful for a “more peaceful year” in 2021. His sister and mother agreed with Salinas adding, “and no more lockdown”.

Head of major events for Auckland Unlimited Hamish Clarke said the feedback from the team was that there were more people gathered than the same time in previous years.

There was a very relaxed feel in air as people were just “wanting to get out and say goodbye to this challenging year”.

“All the entertainment is family friendly,” Clarke said. “This is awesome. This is just what we envisaged. Giving people a reason to come together.”

Further south the mood is equally upbeat as hundreds of families are pouring into Blake Park in Mount Maunganui for the free New Year’s Eve community celebration.

More than 500 people are dotted around the park soaking up the free entertainment,including great music by local bands.

The dancing has started early with plenty of children having a boogie on the grass in front of stage.

The Middleton family from Auckland are among those soaking up the carnival-like atmosphere and great line-up of entertainment.

Richard Middleton, originally from Papamoa and his wife, Kylie, originally from Te Puke, were home to see the New Year with their three sons and other family members.

“It’s an awesome family event and it’s great to see all the support from local businesses too,” said Richard.

Kylie agreed. “We couldn’t think of a better place to bring the kids to celebrate New Year’s Eve … This is home to us and our boys are loving it.”

Circus performer Hayley Rose Harbottle from Flames of Plenty, said the crowd reaction was awesome, especially the young children. “I feel like the Piped Piper, ” she said with a huge grin.

Lots of children are running around trying to grab giant soap bubbles.

Mount Maunganui father Matt Hetherington and his 3-year-old son Isaac were in the thick of action.

“It’s really great, especially as our kids are old enough to join in all the fun,” he said. “It’s a really awesome event and a great place to celebrate the New Year.”

In Rotorua the New Year’s Eve Night Market is bustling as people descend on Tutanekai St for the event, which is running extra late and with a range of entertainment.

The balloon twisting and face painting has been a big hit with families, with a large crowd gathering around to get among the action.

The live music acts have also captivated people, with many making use of chairs, beanbags and the seating area to take a break, eat their food and listen to the local talent.

Rotorua’s Leanne Stewart said they had decided to go along since it was the community event to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

“There’s always a great vibe down here anyway.

“It’s an existing event and it already has patronage, so having extra for New Year’s Eve
seems appropriate and it will have lots of local tourism.”

She said she was feeling optimistic about 2021 and looking forward to a new year.

Wellington’s Jo Purdey is visiting Rotorua with her family, and her son, Fin Clough, 4, was very excited about getting his shaped balloon.

“Anything family-friendly like this is greaton New Year’s Eve. It’s wonderful, lovely.”

When asked what her hopes were for 2021, she said she just hoped that the rest of the world gets to live like New Zealand isliving.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spent part of day popping into All Things Organic in Tairua for an icecream.

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