The First Major City Welcomes in 2009

A stunning firework display in Auckland, New Zealand, marked the first passing of midnight in a major city at 11am British time.

It was preceded by Kiritimati, or Christmas Island, in the Pacific Ocean, the first inhabited place on Earth to celebrate the new year, which passed midnight at 10am British time.

"I sincerely hope that 2009 will be a year of peace and progress."