"It is a sacred ritual for us to meet at dawn on this day," Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae told the crowds at Wellington's Pukeahu National War Memorial Park this morning.
Sir Jerry, a former soldier, said the commemorations of the centenary of the first Anzac service had cast a spotlight on events that changed our nation forever.
"As the first shafts of light appear in the sky, let us renew our vow to remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and those who came home changed by their experiences," he said.
Among the guests were Prime Minister John Key, Australian High Commissioner Peter Woolcott and the Turkish ambassador Damla Yesim Say.
In Auckland, the weekend's rain gave way to a crisp way to an autumn morning as thousands gathered at the War Memorial Museum where 1686 crosses stood in the grass nearby marking Auckland's casualties in World War One.
In Turkey, Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee is attending services on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
A storm has greeted people ahead of the dawn service at the North Beach New Zealand memorial on Chunuk Bair.
A large attendance is expected at the National Service of Commemoration in Wellington later in the morning.
Dignitaries, servicemen and women, and Wellingtonians alike turned up droves for the dawn service at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park despite concerns numbers would drop following last year's centenary.
While crowd numbers were down on last year's landmark event, soldiers at the service expressed their gratitude that New Zealanders continued to remember their fallen and returned troops.
Throughout the crowd, people of all ages, from all walks of life were equally represented with many proudly wearing the military medals of their forebears who had served their country.