NZ firsts: First Nation to see the Sun

Ever wondered where in the world is the first place to see the sun rise? Well, wonder no longer! North of Gisborne, New Zealand, around the coast to Opotiki and inland to Te Urewera National Park, The East Cape has the honour of witnessing the world’s first sunrise during New Zealand’s summer and spring months. The East Cape holds this honour thanks to the curvature of the earth.

East Cape Lighthouse

Around the bays, the untouched beaches and relaxed lifestyle are renowned. Hicks Bay is the eastern tip of the cape, and there you will see the world’s first sunrise. The East Cape Lighthouse provides a wonderful setting for watching the dawn breaking.

Climb the 800 steps to the lighthouse, sitting 154 metres above sea level to drink in spectacular views, with an eye on the horizon so you catch the first rays of the morning.

Tuuranga-nui, near Gisborne, is where Captain Cook first set foot in New Zealand. Cook named the bay ‘Young Nick’s Head’, after the ship’s boy who first spotted land. The impact of Cook’s visit was strong, and the area later became one site of the New Zealand land wars in the 1860s, a major and violent conflict between the native Māori and the Pakeha settlers.

It is still predominantly Māori occupied and Te Reo – Māori language – is still spoken fluently by a large portion of the population. The East Cape is a stronghold of Māori tradition and offers a unique opportunity to experience the culture of Tangata Whenua, the ‘people of the land’.