New Year’s Eve Countdowns Begin as Pacific set to ring in 2024

The people of island nation Kiribati in the Pacific will be among the first ones to welcome 2024. Photo courtesy of Visit Kiribati FB.

WELLINGTON, Dec 31 (Bernama-dpa) — The Pacific will be the first in the world to usher in the new year on Sunday, with fireworks shows and outdoor gatherings planned, reported German news agency (dpa).

Kiribati’s largest island, Kiritimati, home to about 5,000 people, is the first inhabited island to begin each new year, however no major events are planned.

The Chatham Islands, part of New Zealand’s territory, will ring in 2024 15 minutes later (1015 GMT). The islands, about 800 kilometres east of New Zealand’s South Island, are home to some 700 people.

As the first major international centre to welcome in the New Year, the landmarks of New Zealand’s largest city Auckland will then be lit up.

Fireworks will light up the Sky Tower, along with a laser light and animation show synchronised with other landmarks, including Auckland’s Harbour Bridge.

The five-minute and 30-second-long Sky Tower fireworks display, which is the highest in the Southern Hemisphere, will start with a 10-second countdown projected onto the base of the tower before 500 kilogrammes of pyrotechnics are launched.

SkyCity chief operating officer Callum Mallett said watching the fireworks cascade from the Sky Tower had become a tradition for many families.

“It’s a time when people come together to celebrate the upcoming year and enjoy time with friends and family. New Zealand is the first in the world to bring in the New Year, and we are delighted to play a part in those celebrations.”

The Pacific country’s capital Wellington will also put on fireworks and music at an inner city lagoon.

At the same time, two separate fireworks displays in Samoa, one in the capital Apia, and the other in Savai’i, will signal the start of the new year. The displays will be synchronised by New Zealand pyrotechnic experts and fired simultaneously from both islands at the stroke of midnight.

Sydney, which is two hours behind New Zealand and Samoa, will then steal the spotlight with the festivities on the Australian city’s iconic harbour. A million people are set to take in the view as a massive firework display lights up the sky at midnight.

American Samoa, just 220 kilometres to the east of Samoa on the other side of the International Date Line, will be the last to ring in 2024.