The 5 first – and 5 last – places to see in the New Year

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There are some who are first to the party, and some are bringing up the rear. Let’s take a look at the early birds and the night owls.

When that clock strikes midnight, we all go nuts and like to think that we’re doing so in synchrony. But time is relative, much like all facets of existence, and in fact as a planet we perceive the popular annual clock change across 24 different time zones.

We’re not saying it’s a race, but hey there are some who are first to the party, and some are bringing up the rear. Let’s take a look at the early birds and the night owls.

The first places to see in the New Year:

Kiritimati

Traditionally the first place people tested their nuclear bombs, nowadays Kiritimati is the first place they bring in the New Year.

It makes a lot of sense, seeing as Kiritimati actually means “Christmas” in Gilbertese, and New Year’s Eve does happen during the 12 days of Christmas.

The 5 first - and 5 last - places to see in the New Year
Samoa. Photo: Polynesian Xplorer

Samoa

Since changing their time zone in 2011, Samoans have suddenly begun enjoying being one of the first places in the world to enjoy the New Year.

The capital of Apia has gone from being the last capital in the world to the first, and inhabitants are loving this newfound title.

Chatham Islands

With fewer than 700 inhabitants, this group of islands led by the aptly named Chatham Island, is not exactly home to the most happening parties (you’ll catch more people on NYE at the uncoolest warehouse party in east London), but by golly it’s certainly one of the prettiest places to hit midnight early.

The 5 first - and 5 last - places to see in the New Year
Auckland. Photo: louistan

Auckland

The largest city in New Zealand enjoys a big shindig around the Sky Tower in the CBD, where people come from all around to celebrate.

They probably drive over though seeing as Auckland’s beguiling landscape of volcanoes and bridges isn’t conducive to a decent public transport system.

Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, is too busy working on the next blockbuster fantasy film to bother with massive parties.

The 5 first - and 5 last - places to see in the New Year
Sydney Harbour Bridge. Photo: Cole Vassiliou

Sydney

Although technically not in the very first five places to see in the New Year, Sydney is the city that news channels around the world like to show footage of.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge showered in fireworks is probably the image most synonymous with the big number change. Sure, there’s other stuff going on across Australia, but Sydney pips them all to the post.

And the last places to see in the New Year:

The 5 first - and 5 last - places to see in the New Year
California. Photo: jurvetson

California

Although it’s supposedly one of the most forward-thinking places in the world, what with its legions of computer geniuses and vegan hippy gurus, California is severely lagging when it comes to the actual time.

People in Los Angeles only start partying when most of the world has already woken up the next day and is dealing with an excruciating hangover.

The 5 first - and 5 last - places to see in the New Year
Hawaii. Photo: Justin Ornellas

Hawaii

The most western state of the USA is famous for its laidback idyllic lifestyle, so it’ll come as no surprise that they’re also one of the last places to celebrate midnight on NYE.

The capital, Honolulu, hosts many a celebratory luau, while everybody hopes that none of the volcanoes interrupt festivities.

The 5 first - and 5 last - places to see in the New Year
American Samoa. Photo: NOAA Photo Library

American Samoa

Left behind the International Date Line by its former brother Samoa, American Samoa follows through with its father country in North America by taking its time with dancing to the sound of the midnight clock.

The capital of Pago Pago also enjoys one of the most pleasant-sounding names for a capital in the world.

The 5 first - and 5 last - places to see in the New Year
Niue. Photo: Pia Waugh

Niue

This little island is known mostly for its claim as the world’s first Wi-Fi nation, but it’s also one of the last inhabited places on Earth to enjoy New Year’s Eve.

We wouldn’t be surprised if it mostly consisted of the 500-odd citizens having a good old webchat.

The 5 first - and 5 last - places to see in the New Year
Midway, Pacific Ocean. Photo: Official U.S. Navy Imagery

Midway

Despite being further west then Kiritimati and Samoa, the time zone lords have decreed that Midway is one of the stragglers.

There’s not much going on here since economic reasons meant tours have almost completely ceased coming to the island, famous for being a focal point of American and Japanese battles during World War II – but the few inhabitants that do remain must certainly enjoy the novelty of being the last place in the world to enjoy midnight on New Year’s Eve.

The 5 first – and 5 last – places to see in the New Year was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Adam Zulawski