On December 20, we will spend the last night of our New Zealand adventure in Auckland. The next day, December 21st, we fly to Tahiti, land on December 20, and then spend that night in Tahiti. Thanks, international date line!
I understand this is not a unique phenomenon but reserving two hotels for the same night really made my head spin. In retrospect, it’s pretty unavoidable not to trip over the date line somehow from Auckland, as it’s the big city that’s the furthest ahead in time, or the first big city to celebrate a new year.
magical imaginary line was first contemplated Magellan sailed around the world in the 1500s. At that time, navigation required meticulous timekeeping to assess latitude (how far north or south you are), so you can imagine the surprise of the crew when they returned to to Portugal and realized they’d lost track of a day on their journey. However, it wasn’t until 1884 at the International Meridian Conference that those with any authority on these things met and agreed there should be a date line. They agreed this line should be located roughly opposite Greenwich, England, at around the 180° line of longitude, but there was no exact cartographic line adopted because that was outside their scope of responsibility. In fact, all sovereign nations get to determine the time zone for their land and territorial waters, but once you get outside that, the rest of the ocean areas are technically time and date-less.
Weird things happen around the dateline, too. Samoa, not American Samoa, switched sides of the lines in 1991 and skipped December 30th to align their calendars with big trading partners Australia and New Zealand. Further, Seventh Day Adventists in Tonga observe the sabbath on Sunday, not Saturday, to align with the same solar day as the rest of the church.
While we’re really just picking up the remains of the day we’ve lost so far along our trip east, it feels like a bonus day. From Tahiti, we’re working our way back across the US through Hawaii and San Francisco in January, unfortunately by plane and not by Mazda. You can bet I’ll be soaking up all our remaining days and bonus days of warm sunshine before we figure out what adventure is next.