New Zealand greets the morning much earlier than rest of the world. By the time Los Angeles wakes up to celebrate the last day of the year, the first sunrise of a new year has already painted New Zealand in golden hue. Since no sunrises are same ever, it's not worth missing any of them, especially if it's the one that heralds a new year. It's not just the first sunrise that tempts travelers to come to the land of Kiwis, but also the foreplay before the final act. You might have to sleep under the stars, climb mountains, and explore one-of-a-kind landscape to see that moment of glory.
This New Year, head to New Zealand and gift yourself the harmonious madness of New Year parties and a rare experience of witnessing the first sunrise of 2016.
1. Tutukaka Coast
While locals come to this coastal town for a summer holiday, the tourists throng here to get a glimpse of the first sunrise of a new year. Undoubtedly one of the best coastal destinations in the world, Tutukaka thrives on contrasting landscape: beaches, stone wall country, and coves. If you have arrived little too early for welcoming the New Year, make the most of your stay by surfing, swimming, and fishing. Fulfill your wish of seeing the first sunrise by visiting Matapouri and Sandy Bay or take a trip to Whananaki and walk down the longest footbridge in southern hemisphere while waiting to see the sky change its colors.
Akaroa is very much French in spirit. The colonial hangover is evident in its buildings, street names, and bakeries in this small town. Located just 47 miles (75 km) from Christchurch, this erstwhile French colony is one of the best places to welcome New Year. It's common to see travelers driving 15 km down the back country roads to reach the coast before dawn and behold the first sun. After welcoming the new year, you must explore the largest little penguin colony in New Zealand and take a cruise to see Hector's dolphins – the smallest in the world.
Another place in New Zealand that doesn’t feel like one is Oamaru. It's the Victorian architecture that lends this harbor town the title of “living museum of the 19th Century”. Sunrise Penguins tour is a reason enough for travelers to come from the other side of the Atlantic and experience this excursion. Behold the first sunrise of 2016 as you bike through serene surroundings and spot rare Yellow-eyed penguins heading off to sea. Some prefer to visit the seaside village of Moeraki and witness the spectacular sunrise spreading its colors on the boulders.
If a free New Year’s Eve Party is not a lure enough for you to choose Dunedin, then you must also know that the place is just few miles from St. Clair Beach. Whoever has visited Dunedin, knows it all too well that the beach offers one of the most incredible sunrises on the east coast of New Zealand. After the all-age party in Dunedin City is rounded off with fireworks, your wait for the first sunrise of 2016 begins. The beauty of the scarlet sky and a mellow sun rising from the horizon is inexplicable.
5. Gisborne and Mount Hikurangi
Watching the sun rise off the coast of Gisborne – the largest city on the East Cape of New Zealand – is an experience you won't like to barter for anything else. There are many who attend the Rhythm and Vines festival in Gisborne because it's the first festival to welcome the New Year sun. For those who are little ambitious at heart, Mount Hikurangi (1752 meters) is the answer. The highest non-volcanic mountain in the North Island is the first place in mainland New Zealand to greet the sun. Climb to a certain point of this highest non-volcanic mountain in the North Island and stay overnight. Wake up ahead of sunrise to climb to the summit (2-3 hours). You will probably see the best sunrise ever.
The fun that begins with lakefront celebrations, concert, and fireworks culminates into a once-in-a-lifetime experience when you take a hot balloon ride over Queenstown at dawn. It's a top-of-the-world feeling as you glide effortlessly over Coronet Peak, Lake Wakatipu, The Remarkables ski areas, and Mount Aspiring. The first rays of the sun and crisp morning air are therapeutic. Nothing can replace the feeling. After few hours of soaking in the panoramic view of rugged landscape, enjoy a champagne breakfast and raise a toast to a romantic beginning to a new year.
Published On: Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015