Ringing in the New Year Where 2017 First Begins
If you’d like to get a head start on 2017 and experience the New Year as many as 23 hours ahead of some parts of the United States, consider taking a trip to the South Pacific.
From a tropical island, to a mountain resort, to bustling cities, there are plenty of tempting choices for travelers. And just think about the bragging rights you’ll get for being among the first to ring in the New Year!
The Republic of Kiribati, in the central Pacific Ocean, is more than a little off the beaten path but it’s among the first inhabited spots in the world to greet the New Year. On New Year’s Eve, visitors will find parties on the beaches and in town, complete with local folk music and dancing. There’ll be special events at bars and guesthouses as well.
Celebrations may be more low-key than in other parts of the world but if relaxation is your goal, Kiribati, with its 33 coral atolls, is a place to get away from it all. And there’s plenty to do for active, adventurous travelers, including: scuba diving, golf, snorkeling, bird watching, and fishing. The capital, South Tarawa, is about halfway between Hawaii and Australia, and still contains remnants of the battles fought there during World War II.
Travelers who want a vacation that’s less remote can still be among the first New Year’s revelers with a trip to Australia or New Zealand—both of which will be in the midst of their summer season.
Auckland, New Zealand’s most cosmopolitan city, is home to nearly 1.5 million people and located in a stunning setting around two harbors on the country’s North Island. The iconic Sky Tower, which rises 1,076 feet, is the focal point for Auckland’s New Year’s Eve laser light show and fireworks display. The tower’s observation deck offers a panoramic view of the area and its base is home to an entertainment complex called Sky City, which includes bars, restaurants, and a casino where visitors can ring in 2017.
If you’d rather combine a New Year’s Eve celebration with outdoor activities, head to Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island. Surrounded by mountains, and on the shore of crystal-clear Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown offers numerous opportunities for recreation, from hiking and biking to eco-tours through the backcountry. It’s also a great base for exploring the region’s renowned vineyards and old mining towns. On New Year’s Eve, everyone gathers on the lakefront for a celebration featuring music and fireworks at midnight.
Located on Australia’s east coast, Sydney is one of the country’s biggest and most vibrant cities. The distinctive Opera House, with its sail-like design and Harbour Bridge, form the backdrop for the annual New Year’s Eve celebration. The fun begins with an aerial display, followed by the Harbour of Light Parade, when illuminated ships pass by. As a sign of respect, a traditional welcome ceremony acknowledging Australia’s indigenous peoples is part of the evening. At midnight, a 12-minute fireworks show is set off from seven barges for a dazzling display of pyrotechnics.
For help planning a New Year’s Eve getaway, contact Travel Leaders COS at 800-273-0793, or locally at 719-597-0004