The best places to experience a New Zealand sunrise and sunset

The best places to experience the sunrise and sunset in New Zealand

New Zealand is undeniably one of the most scenic countries in the world. The location of its two main islands — North Island and South Island — in the South Pacific Ocean makes it the ideal place to experience some of the most remarkable sunrises and sunsets. Whether you want to watch the sun rise above the mountains and setting into the ocean or vice versa, you will have the opportunity to capture the sun’s movements against a variety of stunning backdrops. Moreover, due to its position close to the antemeridian, New Zealand is one of the first places in the world to see the dawn of a new day. 
Scenic’s handcrafted land journeys through the beautiful land of New Zealand help you appreciate its many natural wonders, including sunrises and sunsets, through the eyes of an expert local guide. Here is our pick of the best places to enjoy the rising and setting of the sun, in the land of the long white cloud.  

Sunrise and sunset at Milford Sound

It comes as no surprise that Rudyard Kipling’s ‘eighth wonder of the world’ – Milford Sound is possibly the best place to see the sun rise and set. On Scenic’s handcrafted itineraries through the beautiful South Island, you will enjoy an overnight Scenic Special Stay on board the Milford Mariner amidst the majesty of Milford Sound. Capture the changing colours of the dark waters as the sun sets behind the fiords and enjoy your morning coffee, with the sight of the sun rising above snow-capped peaks, bathing the Sound region in its alpenglow.  
At Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland Park and Milford Sound, witness the otherworldly shimmer of thousands of glow-worms at Te Anau Caves. Later, enjoy a drink with as you watch the sun set from your lakeside accommodation.  
Milford Sound, New Zealand sunrise and sunset

Sunrise and sunset at Bay of Islands 

In addition to being a place of historic importance, the town of Russell in Bay of Islands is a wonderful location to watch the sun rising from the waterfront. Dating back to 1843, Russell was the first European settlement in New Zealand and retains much of its old-world charm. During your included Scenic Freechoice sightseeing tour, you will see many of Russell’s iconic locations including the Christ Church and the historic Pompallier House.  

For a Bay of Islands foodie experience, choose an included Taste the Bay Scenic Freechoice tour and discover delicious locally made produce and wines. At Paihia, as an exclusive Scenic Enrich experience, you will witness the mighty Lord of the Forest, Tāne Mahuta kauri tree and hear about its greatness from a local Māori guide. And for a relaxing conclusion to your day, watch the sun go down from the terrace of the Copthorne Bay of Islands Hotel over refreshing Sundowners.  
Russell, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Sunrise at Dunedin 

Dunedin’s position at the head of the Otago Harbour is ideal for welcoming a brand-new day. Take a walk along the tranquil St. Clair Beach and watch the sky turn from grey to flaming red. After a stirring start to the day, continue your exploration of the historic city of Dunedin. Admire the wide range of art and architecture, from the stunning street graffiti to the stately Larnach Castle, or visit the Royal Albatross Centre to view the majestic birds up close. The city’s literary heritage has earned it the title of ‘UNESCO Creative City of Literature.’ Scenic offers a range of included Scenic Freechoice options for every kind of traveller, from art and history enthusiasts to nature and scenery lovers.  

Moeraki Boulders

One of the most unique beaches in New Zealand is found on the scenic stretch between Dunedin and Oamaru. Koekohe Beach is home to the surreal Moeraki Boulders. At sunrise, the landscape here really has the ultimate wow factor. Depending on the tides, the 50-odd boulders will either be high and dry, or partially submerged. They are a fascinating geological feature that seem to have been created by something otherworldly. What makes them so impressive (apart from their size) is that they are all almost perfectly round. Māori legend tells that the boulders are remains of calabashes and eel baskets that washed ashore and were turned into stones after the legendary canoe, the Araiteuru, was wrecked nearby long ago. But every myth has a scientific explanation, with the boulders formed from ancient sea sediments, over 60 million years ago. 
Moreaki Boulders, New Zealand sunrise and sunset

Sunset in Auckland

New Zealand’s most populous city, Auckland has two natural harbours and is nicknamed the ‘City of Sails,’ reputed for having more boats per capita than anywhere else in the world. Auckland and its surrounding regions boast a wealth of natural treasures, such as the bright green waters of Waiheke Island, and the black sand beaches of the West Coast. The city is also famous for its rich cultural mix, Māori heritage and sporting legacy. And, if you’re looking for the perfect sunset, its harbour is known to host some of the most magical ones. Choose an included Scenic Freechoice sunset dinner yacht cruise to fully appreciate the changing colours of the sky as the sun sinks into the sparkling waters.  
Experience an Auckland sunrise and sunset, New Zealand

Cape Reinga

On the northernmost tip of the Aupouri Peninsula, where ocean and sea meet and Māori spirits return to their ancestral homeland, you’ll find Cape Reinga. The ultimate far-north New Zealand experience, Cape Reinga is remote and surrounded by vast blue ocean on all sides. It is one of the best places to watch the sunrise and sunset in New Zealand with both equally spectacular.  
Cape Reinga sunrise and sunset, New Zealand

Where will you watch the sunset or sunrise in New Zealand? 

There's something about a beautiful sunrise and sunset that makes a travel experience complete, the perfect beginning or end to an enriching day. No two are the same and the moments when night turns into day and day into night, are always something to look forward to when traveling. We hope that you will visit at least one of these amazing locations in New Zealand with Scenic. 
The pristine wonders of New Zealand 2021/2022 brochure