Tens of thousands attended the numerous ceremonies, marking the 99th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings in Turkey in World War I.
More than 2700 New Zealanders were killed in the disastrous 1915 campaign, but it helped forge the national identities of both New Zealand and Australia.
In Auckland, war veterans marched into the court of honour at Auckland War Memorial Museum to begin the dawn ceremony.
Auckland Mayor Len Brown placed a wreath on the cenotaph, and the ode to the fallen was recited by veterans in both Maori and English.
The choir sang both God Defend New Zealand and Advance Australia Fair before the veterans marched away, being applauded several times as they did.
The crowd was a diverse one, with the city’s large Asian, Indian and Pacific Island communities well represented as well as those of Maori and Pakeha ethnicity.
Resident Alastair Peebles said he was particularly pleased New Zealand’s battlefront colleagues across the Tasman were recognised.
“I thought it was great that the Australian national anthem was sung, and that the Australian flag had pride of place on top of the museum,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of things in common and it’s great for the kids to see it.”
Thousands also gathered in Wellington in front of the cenotaph, possibly for the last time as next year’s ceremony will be at the newly-constructed National War Memorial Park in front of the historic Wellington carillion.
There were similar scenes around the country, in major ceremonies in Christchurch and Dunedin, and in dozens of smaller centres.