Art & Culture

Auckland brings in the New Year with Sky Tower fireworks for 2020

A spectacular fireworks display from the Sky Tower has launched Auckland into a new decade.

New Zealand’s largest fireworks display was accompanied by lasers and animations, a first for the Sky Tower.

Light shows from the Harbour Bridge and Light Path cycleway were also synchronised with the 2020 celebrations, washing the Auckland skyline in an array of colours.

Auckland is the first major city in the world to celebrate each New Year, thanks to time zones.

Its fireworks for 2020 were watched live around the globe, with parts of the display broadcast on the BBC in the UK and other networks worldwide.

Dellasey and Divene, aged 5, out to watch the fireworks in Auckland.
Dellasey and Divene, aged 5, out to watch the fireworks in Auckland.

The five-minute fireworks display saw 500kg of pyrotechnics and 3500 effects, with a new firing site at level 64, 235 metres above ground.

Some 1.6 tonnes of equipment and 14kms of control cabling were installed ahead of the show.

Auckland is the first major city in the world to celebrate each New Year.
Auckland is the first major city in the world to celebrate each New Year.
Dancing in the street in Auckland for New Year's Eve.
Dancing in the street in Auckland for New Year’s Eve.

Other cities across New Zealand also hosted fireworks, parties and celebrations.

New Year's Eve celebrations in Nelson.
New Year’s Eve celebrations in Nelson.

Here’s how some of the rest of the world is ushering in 2020:

The fireworks at midnight in Sydney.
The fireworks at midnight in Sydney.


Sydney’s famous fireworks display went ahead despite widespread fires across New South Wales and Victoria.

New South Wales has copped the brunt of the wildfire damage in Australia, which has razed more than 1000 homes nationwide and killed 12 people in the past few months.

Fireworks are seen from Mrs. Macquarie's Chair during New Year's Eve celebrations in Sydney.
Fireworks are seen from Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Sydney.

Some communities cancelled their celebrations, but Sydney Harbour’s popular display was granted an exemption to a total fireworks ban.

The AU$6.5 million fireworks extravaganza saw more than 100,000 fireworks exploded in the skies above Sydney Harbour at the stroke of midnight to the delight of an estimated 1 million people.

More than a quarter of a million people had signed a petition seeking to cancel the fireworks.

But Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore said the fireworks were planned 15 months in advance and couldn’t be canned. She said the display generates AU$130 million (NZ$135m) for the NSW economy.

Firefighting fundraising efforts around the harbour had raised more than AU$840,000 as of about 11.30pm, with hopes the figure could exceed AU$1 million by midnight.

Melbourne expected as many as 400,000 people to pack several CBD sites as 14 tonnes of fireworks shot from 22 city rooftops.


The Pacific island nation of Kiribati was one of the first countries to welcome the new decade. The nation’s 3200 coral atolls are strewn more than 3 million square miles, straddling the equator.

As the new year begins, Kiribati finds itself on the front line of the battle against climate change, facing drought and rising sea levels.

In 2020, a project funded by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Green Climate Fund and Kiribati’s government brings hope of providing safe and climate-secure drinking water to the main island of Tarawa, which is home to most of the nation’s 110,000 people.


In Samoa, New Year’s Eve was more sombre than usual. While fireworks erupted at midnight from Mount Vaea, overlooking the capital, Apia, the end of the year was a time of sadness and remembrance

Families enjoyed warm weather and music to see in the new year at Christchurch’s Hagley Park.

A measles epidemic in late 2019 claimed 81 lives, mostly children under 5.

More than 5600 measles cases were recorded in the nation of just under 200,000. With the epidemic now contained, the Samoa Observer newspaper named as its Person of the Year health workers who fought the outbreak.

“We have experienced extreme sadness and sorrow,” the newspaper said. “Since the first measles death, the pain has only deepened. But amidst much hopelessness and tears, we have also seen the best of mankind in this country’s response.”


This year’s New Year’s Eve midnight fireworks display, famously known for lighting up Hong Hong’s iconic skyline, has been cancelled.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board announced that it had made a last-minute decision to scrap the event and instead create a special New Year’s themed version of its daily light show.

e lotto will be drawn at midnight to keep people interested in the countdown to 2020.

The decision was made after organisers of Hong Kong’s protest rallies announced that a mass demonstration would be held to mark the first day of January.


Thousands of South Koreans filled cold downtown streets in Seoul ahead of a traditional bell-tolling ceremony near City Hall to send off 2019.

Dignitaries picked to ring the old Bosingak bell at midnight included South Korean Major League Baseball pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu and Pengsoo – a giant penguin character with a gruff voice and blunt personality that emerged as one of the country’s biggest TV stars in 2019.

The annual tolling of the “peace bell” at Imjingak park near the border with North Korea was cancelled due to quarantine measures following an outbreak of African swine fever.


People flocked to temples and shrines in Japan, offering incense with their prayers to celebrate the passing of a year and the the first New Year’s of the Reiwa era.

Under Japan’s old-style calendar, linked to emperors’ rules, Reiwa started in May, after Emperor Akihito stepped down and his son Naruhito became emperor.

Although Reiwa is entering its second year with 2020, January 1 still marks Reiwa’s first New Year’s, the most important holiday in Japan.

“We have a new era and so I am hoping things will be better, although 2019 was also a good year because nothing bad happened,” said Masashi Ogami, 38, who ran a sweet rice wine stall at Zojoji Temple in Tokyo, drawing a crowd of revellers.

Other stalls sold fried noodles and candied apples, as well as little figures and amulets in the shape of mice, the zodiac animal for 2020. Since the Year of the Mouse starts off the Asian zodiac, it’s associated with starting anew.

The first year of the new decade will see Tokyo host the 2020 Olympics, an event that is creating much anticipation for the capital and the entire nation.

– with Sydney Morning Herald, AP

Partygoers celebrate during Auckland's New Year's Eve celebrations.
Partygoers celebrate during Auckland’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.
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