The ultimate New Year’s travel destination

Are you tired of hearing your friends brag about where they’ll be spending New Year’s this December? The outback in Australia, the pyramids at Giza, Piccadilly Circus, they’ll all have their charms. But a recent news item about broadcast rights and the “first sunrise” has shown me where the ultimate snob traveller simply has to be early on January 1, 2000.

According to news reports, Mount Hakepa on New Zealand’s Pitt Island, (500 miles southeast of the mainland) is the hot spot for the dawn of new age. There is a battle, of course, involving money and television broadcast rights, that is already raging between the New Zealand government and international TV networks.

Scientists at London’s Greenwich time centre have confirmed that “first sunlight” will reach Mount Hakepa (pop. 55) at exactly 3:59 a.m. local time, or 11:59 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. CNN is said to be offering up to $270,000 for the broadcast rights of this amazing event, close to $200,000 more than what the New Zealand government is willing to shell out. A local farmer, one Ken Lanauze, has already dismissed the government’s offer as a bad deal.

While they dicker over price, the smart (and ultimate)raveller will be calling up CARPTravel and booking passage to Mount Hapeka. While your friends are freezing in the dark at home watching CNN, you can be standing beside Mr. Lanauze, and bear true witness to the dawn of a new age. You may have to sleep on the beach, but it will be the trip of a lifetime.