Anyone who’s ever camped outside an Apple store eagerly awaiting the new iPhone model, or waited patiently for Glastonbury tickets to go on sale will know: it pays to be the first in line. The prestige of knowing you got there before anyone else is sometimes even better than getting your hands on whatever you were waiting for in the first place, right?
I recently ventured out onto the East Cape of New Zealand’s North Island with Stray’s East Bro tour, and our first stop just so happened to be Gisborne, the world’s most easterly city. Being situated almost on the International Date Line means that Gisborne is the first city in the world to welcome each new day.
After a night huddled around a roaring fire, our group set our alarms for a horrifically early 5.15am start and turned in. No sooner had I closed my eyes than I heard the familiar sound of my phone, prodding me awake.
With sleepy eyes, I stretched and pulled myself out of my creaky bunk, threw on the nearest clothes and wandered outside. The sky had already started to pale as a small group of us walked across the eerily silent road to the beach. We slid into hammocks and stared at the horizon to watch the start of the show.
The chill in the air lifted a little, and we knew it wasn’t long before the sun made its appearance over the lip of the Earth to commence the midsummer’s day. Some of the group scanned the rocks for signs of penguins and seals, who make their homes on the shores of this tiny city. None were to be found, but the guys who slept on the beach (not wanting to miss a second of the starry night) insisted they had been there a couple of hours before.
After what seemed like an age, the sun peeked over the horizon, flooding our faces with a warm glow. After that, it was unstoppable. It rose quickly and fiercely, creating a golden sky as it went. Everyone trained their cameras on the glowing ball and clicked away, ‘ooohing’ and ‘ahhing’ their approval.
I wasn’t sure if it was awe or exhaustion. Either way, the power of the sun making its appearance was enough to silence twenty people all at once, and we all just stood, taking in the view and storing this memory. Next time I’m feeling crappy, I know I’ll be using this moment of serenity to bring calm, for sure.
The sun reached up over the sea and fully revealed itself, and then it was done. Saturday, 16th January, 2016 had begun, and we were the first people in the world to see that happen. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty epic.
The beach began to empty as, with smiles on our faces and memory cards full of pink skies, we went back to our warm blankets and fluffy pillows. After all, the day could wait for just a few more hours, couldn’t it?
Special thanks to guest writer Hayley Griffiths, full-time world traveller and writer of the Lovepuffin Travel Blog that specialises in ‘adventure for the unadventurous’. She recently covered the North Island on Stray’s Jase pass. All photos in this post belong to Hayley and were published with her permission.