"Good riddance to 2021. Let 2022 bring fresh hope."
That appears to be the common theme on the tips of everyone's tongues — as the world began welcoming the new year.
New Zealand was one of the first places to celebrate the new year with a low-key lights display projected onto Auckland landmarks, including the Sky Tower and Harbour Bridge, replacing the traditional fireworks show.
In many places, New Year's Eve celebrations were muted or cancelled for the second straight year due to a surge of coronavirus infections, this time driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant.
While there hasn't yet been any community spread of Omicron in New Zealand, authorities still wanted to discourage crowds from gathering.
Neighbouring Australia, however, went ahead with its celebrations despite an explosion in virus cases.
Some fireworks were let off early in the evening to give younger children a preview of the centrepiece of festivities, the renowned fireworks display from the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.
Hours before the celebrations began, Australian health authorities reported a record 32,000 new virus cases, many of them in Sydney. Because of the surge, crowds were far smaller than in pre-pandemic years, when as many as a million people would crowd inner Sydney.
Because of the position of the international date line, countries in Asia and the Pacific region are among the first to usher in each new year.
Even before Omicron hit, many people were happy to say goodbye to a second grinding year of the pandemic.
But so far, at least, the Omicron surge hasn't resulted in the same levels of hospitalisations and deaths as previous outbreaks — especially among vaccinated people — offering a glimmer of hope for 2022.