Have you ever wondered where in the world you can watch the sunrise first? So there are no more questions! Every day, the East Cape, north of Gisborne, New Zealand, around the coast to Opotiki and inland to Te Urewera National Park, witnessed the world’s first sunrise.
CONTROL OF THE WORLD’S FIRST PLACE TO SEE THE SUN
Due to the ongoing development and alteration of the international data line for political and economic reasons, there is some debate as to which country was the first to view the sunrise.
Kiribati Islands, located in the South Pacific Ocean, were the first to take this step. The Republic of Kiribati is a set of islands distributed across 3.5 million square kilometers with east and west islands separated by an international data line until 1995. This is not a viable option, therefore they decided in 1995 to relocate all of the islands to the east of the data line, putting them at UTC +14 – an entirely new time zone and the most remote.
Tonga was the second country to adopt UTC +14 by instituting daylight saving time in 1999.
Samoa then moved its position on the international data line in 2011. Samoa used to be the last place on the planet where you could view a sunset. A journey to Cape Mulinu’u, where you can be one of the last people on the earth to close the day, is a highlight for many visitors to Samoa. After relocating in 2011, they attempted to align their workweek with New Zealand and Australia. They had gone the opposite way 119 years before, aligning themselves with the United States to enhance trade, but Australia and New Zealand had grown increasingly vital to them.
As you can see, there has been a lot of change and leap, and we can all agree that Kiribati and Tonga Islands are the first countries to greet a new (and more exciting) day. Every year, Samoa celebrates the New Year at UTC +13.
However, just because these countries are the first to greet the new day does not mean they are the first to see the sunrise. Because of the planet’s curvature, the Eastern Cape has retained this status. We’re sticking with it, even if it’s still widely discussed! We may no longer be the first to greet the new year, but we are still the first to witness the sunrise!
EAST CAPE HISTORY
Captain Cook first set foot in New Zealand in Tuuranga-Nui, near Gisborne. Cook named young Nick’s Head Bay after the kid who discovered the mainland. Cook’s voyage had a significant impact, and the area later became a scene of New Zealand’s land wars in the 1860s, a huge and brutal battle between local Maori peoples and Pakeha settlers.
It is still primarily Maori-populated, and Te Reo – the Maori language – is still spoken fluently by a major portion of the community. The East Cape is a stronghold of Maori heritage and provides a unique opportunity to experience Tangata Whenua, or ‘people of the land’ culture.
Te Urewera National Park, known for its misty highland lakes, is the traditional home of the Throne Tuhoe tribe, the ‘children of the mist.’ It is New Zealand’s third largest national park and largest untouched primeval forest, with several scenic walks in the vicinity as well as campsites and cabins to stay overnight.
Horseback riding is another opportunity to enjoy Te Urewera and the East Cape’s mythical charm, and hunting and fishing expeditions can also be organized. These are available for purchase online.
THE BEST PLACES IN THE WORLD TO SEE THE FIRST SUN
Surrounding bays, pristine beaches, and well-known laid-back culture. Hicks Bay is the cape’s easternmost point, and it is here that you will witness the world’s first sunrise. The East Cape Lighthouse is a lovely place to see the sunrise, and the Hicks Bay Motel Lodge is nearby for nice lodging.
Camping, scuba diving, swimming, and surfing are all available directly on the beach, and there are numerous small, hidden coves and estuaries to explore. There is affordable lodging available, and there is a general sense of genuine welcome.