Australia’s largest city, Sydney, which proclaims itself the “New Year’s capital of the world,” has taken its moment in the spotlight, with its traditional firework display above the Harbour Bridge.
The bridge stood in relative darkness during the countdown, before giving way to a dazzling display of bright colors after the stroke of midnight.
The show, involving some 8 metric tons of fireworks, was witnessed by tens of thousands of people gathered at vantage points along the waterfront.
The renowned display is one of the most complex in the world, costing about 7 million Australian dollars (€4.3 million, $4.8 million). City authorities say it is watched annually by around 425 million people worldwide.
An earlier firework display, for families, also took place at the Harbour Bridge.
Many revelers have been camping to bag the best vantage points since Sunday morning.
The Sydney fireworks marked the change of year for the states of New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria, with Australia split across several time zones.
The French overseas territory of New Caledonia celebrated at the same time, as did several regions of eastern Russia.
South Australia, and a small part of New South Wales, see in the New Year half an hour after Sydney.
Queensland lets the New Year arrive on its own schedule
It was also time for the Australian state of Queensland to tick over into 2024, an hour after New South Wales and Victoria.
That’s because Queensland does not change clocks in the summer to allow for more sunlight in the evening. It’s further north and gets more light, making the hour change unnecessary.
New Zealand and Samoa light up skies
In New Zealand, fireworks have lit up Auckland’s Sky Tower, along with a laser light and animation show synchronized with other landmarks such as the city’s Harbour Bridge.
The display began with a digitized countdown projected onto the base of the tower before some 500 kilograms of pyrotechnics were launched from the structure.
There were also fireworks at an inner-city lagoon in the capital, Wellington.
Meanwhile, in the island nation of Samoa, there were two separate fireworks displays planned — one in the capital Apia, and the other on the largest island Savai’i.
New Zealand pyrotechnic experts were called in to ensure the fireworks were fired simultaneously from both islands at the stroke of midnight.
Chatham Islands celebrate alone
New Zealand’s Chatham Islands have celebrated the New Year, just 15 minutes after parts of Kiribati.
The islands are a little unusual in having standardized their time to 12 hours and 45 minutes ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT/UTC) back in 1868.
Although New Zealand’s Standard Time Act of 1945 established the country’s time 12 hours behind GMT/UTC, the Chatham Islands informally set their clocks 45 minutes ahead of the mainland.
New Zealand’s parliament formalized the difference with an amendment to the Standard Time Act in 1956.
The islands are about 800 kilometers (500 miles) east of New Zealand’s South Island and are home to some 700 people. (DW/NN – 01-01-2024)