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Breaking dawn across the islands

Thursday, September 2, 2010
Here's a Getaway experience with a difference. Our presenters visited 22 wonderful locations in 17 countries on five continents to bring you 24 Hours Around the World.


Chatham Islands

Catriona Rowntree kicked off the day on Chatham Islands, 870km east of Christchurch in New Zealand. The little gem is right on the international dateline and is the first inhabited place on the planet to see sunrise.

For Chatham's 650 residents, their usually quiet lives were turned upside down when news services flocked there at the turn of this century.

The 10 very remote islands that make up the Chathams archipelago have been part of New Zealand since 1842. Chatham and Pitt are the only inhabited islands. Waitangi is the main settlement with around 200 residents.

The remaining smaller islands are conservation reserves with restricted or prohibited access. The landscape is rugged and rural and the community very self-reliant. For most of us, it's like stepping back in time. There are no mobiles, and farming and fishing are the main sources of food and income.

If you ever think of going there, make sure you book. Unless you have bagged one of the 120 available beds, they won't let you on the island. There are home stays, B&Bs and the brand-new executive suites at the Hotel Chatham.

The hotel in Waitangi has just 19 rooms and has great views of the harbour and bay. It has a fully licensed restaurant where the local seafood is delicious, bar and very friendly staff. They offer fishing and diving charters, Pitt Island tours, bicycle and vehicle hire and airport transfers.

The 25,000-hectare lagoon in the middle of the island is a huge drawcard. It's warm and a good source of food.

There's a hardware store, service station, general store, banks and schools. There's not a lot of excitement, but if you would love a holiday somewhere remote, peaceful and beautiful, this could be the place for you.

Cape Byron

Jules Lund saw dawn break in Australia's easternmost point — Cape Byron. He tackled the 5.2km track which weaves around the Cape Byron Marine Park Headland in the dark, but once it became light, it was worth every step.

It can be cloudy, so the best option is the Cape Byron Lighthouse, Australia's brightest and most easterly. You will see little cottages, pristine beaches and be surrounded by scented bushland.

You'll probably see hang-gliders launching themselves from their platform, and Byron Bay Ballooning has one-hour sunrise flights.

Between May and October, Cape Byron is one of the best on-land vantage points for seeing the annual migration of the humpback whales. Dolphins are also regular visitors.

Thai monks

Jason Dundas was ready to greet the dawn in Phuket, Thailand. Even at that early time it was hot and muggy but he was about to experience something quite humbling.

Buddhism is the major religion of Thailand, and at some stage in their life, all males become monks, be it for two weeks, a couple of years or the rest of their lives.

Each morning as the sun is about to break, monks leave their temple and walk along the street, chanting and striking their gongs. They are out collecting offerings of food, or alms. Locals offer food and they believe that earns merits towards a better rebirth. What they are given must be eaten by noon and they don't eat again until the next morning.

Monks are barefooted and dressed in saffron robes covering both shoulders. They walk slowly and never seek alms. They stop only when beckoned or called and offer their bowls which are filled with rice. Small plastic bags of other food are put in their shoulder bag. Sometimes they are given flowers or money.

The people giving the alms, who have also removed their shoes, crouch for a blessing from the monk. They cannot refuse anything offered, and on popular routes an assistant can be seen pushing a cart carrying the extra food. Most of that goes to monks unable to make the walk, nuns and temple staff. The poor are invited to the temple for a meal, and anything left after that is given to stray animals in the temple compound.

It's a very spiritual experience, and if you believe in karma, this is where you will feel it.


Kelly Landry greeted a new day in the Indian Ocean around the cluster of thousands of islands known as the Maldives. She boarded a yacht at her accommodation — the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Hotel, which is set on two interconnected islands.

On the three-hour sail you can toast the new day with champagne or juice and be served food by the crew. Once it's daylight you can venture out past the atoll looking for dolphins and see the nature of the islands.

Related: Give Me a Break: Byron


The Chatham Islands, a two-hour flight from Wellington; Cape Byron in New South Wales; Phuket in Thailand; and the Maldives.


Hotel Chatham rooms start at around $68 a night.
Prices correct at September 2, 2010.

For further information

Hotel Chatham
PO Box 3
Chatham Islands 8030
New Zealand
Ph: +64 3 305 0048
Fax: +64 3 305 0097

Cape Byron Information Centre
Cape Byron Lighthouse
Lighthouse Road
Byron Bay 2481
Ph: (02) 6685 5955
Fax: (02) 6620 9333

Byron Bay Ballooning
Tyagarah Airfield
Byron Bay 2481
Ph: 1300 889 660

Tourism Authority of Thailand
Level 20, 56 Pitt Street
Sydney 2000
Ph: (02) 9247 7549
Fax: (02) 9251 2465

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort
Rangali Island
Republic of Maldives
Ph: +960 668 0629
Fax: +960 668 0619

New Zealand

Visas: Australian citizens do not require a visa to enter New Zealand.
Electricity: 230V at 50Hz using the same plugs as in Australia.
Time zone: GMT +12.
Currency: The New Zealand dollar.
International dialling code: +64.


Visas: Australians may stay in Thailand for up to 30 days without a visa.
Electricity: 220V with a European plug of two circular metal pins or Japanese plug with two parallel flat blades.
Time zone: GMT +7.
Currency: The baht.
International dialling code: +66.


Visas: A valid passport and return ticket are required for entry. Thirty-day tourist visas will be issued on arrival.
Electricity: 230V at 50Hz.
Time zone: GMT +5.
Currency: Maldivian rufiya.
International dialling code: +960.

User comments
Can someone tell me who sings the cover of 'Feeling Good' that was used as background music in the Maldives section of this episode?

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