9 Best Places to Watch the Sunrise and Sunset in New Zealand
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Aotearoa New Zealand is first country in the world to see every new day in – thats right, another thing we lead the world in!
With beautiful landscapes creating perfect vantage points to catch the sunrise, and horizons stretching far out to sea, Aotearoa New Zealand has many amazing places to watch the sunrise.
Planning a trip? See the bottom of this article for our favourite websites we love to use when booking our trips, and a free, customisable travel planner, ft. tips on how to get the most out of your travel.
Also below are some helpful, quick-fire answers to your FAQs about the sunrise and sunset in New Zealand.
But first, here are our top NINE picks:
Kaiti Beach, Gisborne
The Eastern most township of Gisborne in Aotearoa New Zealand, just south of the East Cape, is the very first city the light touches at dawn.
Start your morning before the dawn, head down to Kaiti Beach adjacent to Eastland Port and witness the rising of the sun of the Pacific Ocean, uninterrupted, knowing you were the first in the world to see it.
Te Mata Peak, Napier
Te Mata Peak is one of the most spectacular places in Aotearoa New Zealand to catch a sunrise. Let it be the ultimate start to your day, by lifting your heart rate, walking to the top before dawn and being greeted by a glorious sunrise, on an iconic landmark of the Hawkes Bay region, complete with 360 degree views.
On clear mornings, you can see right out to Cape Kidnappers and watch the sun rise up from the ocean below.
Mount Maunganui is one of Aotearoa’s most famous beach side towns, known for gorgeous warm waters, excellent surf, a bustling township and the famous little volcanic cone, which the town is named after. This volcanic cone, Mt Maunganui, is not only a sacred Māori site, but also one of the country’s best places to watch the sunrise and sunset in New Zealand.
Make your way up with walkway to the small summit first thing, or as a great way to walk off your dinner. With beautiful views and warm sea breezes, you’re sure to catch an inspiring dawn or dusk.
Onetangi Beach, Waiheke
Onetangi Beach on the north eastern side of Waiheke is perfected positioned to capture first daylight with the sunrise and and final sun rays with the sunset.
Port Hills, Christchurch
Find yourself a spot on the Port Hills, overlooking Lyttelton Harbour just outside of Canterbury for a captivating sunrise or sunset. Walk up to your position with the stillness and quietness of the night, and return, with the sun kissing your cheeks and warmth on your shoulders.
Looking right back down the harbour, you’ll see layers of land on the horizon, all varying in colour as the sun moves.
Nugget Point, Catlins
Nugget Point, a few minutes south of Kaka Point is a kiwi favourite and a must see place for you itinerary if you haven’t done so yet. The sunrise and sunset here is enormous as it is glorious. You can see for miles as the light produces amazing colours right across the sky, ocean and all around you. The ocean appears to let go of the sun to the dawn and then swallow up it up at dusk. Truly spectacular.
Nugget Point is named after the little ‘nuggets’ (boulders) just off the coast, which dot around the base of the peninsula and lighthouse. This eastern outstretch of land has a lot of offer those who wish to venture out either first or last thing, in the day. The Hoihi or Yellow Eyed Penguins, can be seen coming and going at dawn and dusk, generally in the Roaring Bay area. Take some binoculars to be sure you don’t miss them.
Roys Peak, Wānaka
Ahh, Roy’s Peak, how could we not include it? Popular, yes. And for extremely good reason! Roys Peak is the range between Wānaka and Glendu Bay, which offers quite unbelievable, never ending, 360 degree, panoramic mountain and lake views, with the glowing, golden and red hue sun, striking all eastern facing land in the morning. Awe-inspiring, captivating and down right incredible (and maybe even a little romantic!).
The walk up is not for the faint-heart, be prepared and make sure you have a decent moderate fitness level before embarking on this fantastic hike.
Greet the day, or kiss it goodnight alongside the lovely, and wild Kaikōura locals – seabirds, seals, dolphins and maybe even a whale. Make your way down to the beach in Kaikōura, or along the Kaikōura Peninsula Walkway for a spectacular view of the New Zealand sunrise and sunset.
An easy-to-reach place to view the beautiful, daily spectacle, makes it accessible for most people to marvel over. Watch the pastel colours, grow brighter in the morning and fainter with the twilight.
Towers Bay, Kaiteriteri (Split Apple Rock)
Colours are what make this place shine. The sunrise and sunset in this part of the world are strikingly abundant with golden sun rays hitting and reflecting from the water, setting apart the land, which becomes seemingly black in a gorgeous contrast.
As the sun rises and daylight takes over, the vivid turquoise waters invite you in for a magical dip in the soothing waters. The land is beautiful with the green of the surrounding native bush and perfect, golden sand.
Here are some helpful, quick-fire answers to your FAQs about the sunrise and sunset in New Zealand
What is the longest day of the year in New Zealand?
Every year it is around the 22nd December. This is about 3 weeks into our summer.
How long is the longest day in NZ?
The day light hours for most places in New Zealand, on the longest day, is around 15 hours. From approx 5.45am to 9.30pm
How long is the longest day in Invercargill?
On the longest day in New Zealand, the city of Invercargill can reach to nearly 16 hours of daylight. This is due to the axis of the earth, the southern parts get to enjoy a longer day.
However, equally, it has the least daylight hours in the winter.
Which side is sunrise and sunset?
The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
Where does the sun rise first in NZ?
The East Cape. The first city to see the sun is Gisborne.
Which country sun rises first?
Aotearoa New Zealand!
What is the shortest day of the year?
Mostly, it is on the 21st June, with around 5 hours less daylight than summers longest day.
What time is sunrise and sunset in NZ?
The approximate times of sunrise and sunset in New Zealand are:
Summer – 5.45am to 9.30pm
Winter – 7.30am to 5.10pm
Making the Most of Dawn and Dusk
Making the effort to catch the sunrise or sunset is a fun way to be making memories with friends or loved ones, reconnecting with nature on a solo mission or using it as a powerful and awe-inspiring excuse to get out of bed and get some exercise. Include some sunsets and sunrises into your life, they’ll lift your spirits, reset your circadian rhythm and make you feel more alive!
Websites we love to use when booking our trips:
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Foreign / Curreny Exchange:
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