First Light Marathon & Half 2025

23 January 2025
  • Adventure
  • Half Marathon
  • Marathon

Enter the 2025 First Light Marathon

Known for being the first city in the world to see the sun each day, Tairāwhiti Gisborne, Aotearoa New Zealand, hosts the spectacular First Light Marathon. Rewarding runners with beautiful steep green hills and endless coastline, this is your opportunity to take in the sights and the sunrise as you race along the hills and white sand beach.

Runners of all levels can take part in the First Light with the option of either the Marathon or Half Marathon.

Book today for guaranteed entry, accommodation and excellent support from our team.

Half Board

Half Board

Breakfast and lunch included with packages

Meals Included

Meals Included

2 lunches and 2 dinners



English-speaking tour leader included



4 scheduled departure transfers included

Trip Extension

Trip Extension

Trip extension available upon request



Choose from 4 accommodation packages



Marathon or Half Marathon entry

Celebration Party

Celebration Party

Celebration dinner at a local vineyard



Additional tours and excursions available

Travel Package Information

  • Itinerary

    • 2025 itinerary/4 Nights/23rd - 27th January, 2025

      23 January 2025: Arrival in Tairawhiti Gisborne
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      All participants will arrive in Tairāwhiti Gisborne either by a domestic flight or by bus. There are several options for domestic flights and buses. Tairāwhiti Gisborne is about a 6/7 hour drive or a 1 hour flight from Auckland. Alternatively, guests might consider renting a car if you plan on doing a bigger tour around the island. If participants choose to fly to the local Tairāwhiti Gisborne airport (GIS), transport to the hotel is included.
      You can also join our Pre Tour starting in Auckland and take you overland in 4 days to Gisborne. For more details about the Pre Tour press here

      Around 18:00, all runners will gather for a short shakeout run guided by a local runner from Gisborne. The run will be a maximum of 5km at a relaxed pace, perfect for starting to get familiar with the beautiful surroundings. After the run, we’ll gather for complimentary beer and some fingerfoods, where you can get to know your fellow marathon participants, meet the organizers and raise a glass to the beginning of our Aotearoa New Zealand adventure.

      Meals: Finger food after the Shakeout Run

      24 January 2025: Traditional Pawhiri
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      Early this morning, we offer another optional excursion, “Stingray Encounter,” in Tatapouri. During this excursion, you will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with stingrays and other reef dwellers on a reef ecology tour. We’ll be back to the hotels in time for the rest of the day’s activities.

      All participants will get together in the late morning for a traditional Māori welcome ceremony, known as a pōwhiri. A pōwhiri is a special ritual of encounter and the perfect way for us to experience Māori traditions. It usually takes place at the Māori meeting grounds, called a marae. The ceremony involves singing, dancing and speeches.

      After the ceremony, we will enjoy lunch at the marae.

      The rest of the afternoon is yours to soak in the cultural attractions of the city, hit the beaches, or stretch your muscles on a hike.

      In the evening, all participants will meet to enjoy a pasta dinner.

      Meals: Lunch at the Powhiri & pasta dinner

      25 January 2025: Race Day
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      Today’s the big day!

      After an early breakfast at the hotel, you will make your way to the start line, just a short walk away.  As the first light of day crests the horizon, you’ll set off with music and excitement thrumming through your body.

      Both the marathon and half-marathon begin at 06:00. Both races will end at 14:00.

      In the evening you can meet other runners at The Wharf Bar & Grill and share your winnings and impressions of today’s run while tasting an icecold beer. The first beer is on us. The Wharf is beautiful located with views of Gisborne Inner Harbour.

      Later in the evening, we offer an optional excursion, “Gisborne Astro Tours,” where you will get to admire the celestial wonders of the Southern Hemisphere. An accomplished astronomer will be your guide to the starry constellations above


      Meals: Light lunch at the finish line

      26 January 2025: Optional Excursions, wine tasting & Farewell Dinner
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      Today, you will have the day free to explore Gisborne at your own pace, or you might opt to join one of our three exciting excursions.

      There will be several optional excursions today. The first option is a tour to Maunga Hikurangi, a sacred mountain of the Ngāti Porou people. It is the first point on the mainland to see the sunrise each day. A Ngāti Porou guide will teach us about the Māori traditions and share the stories of this sacred place, and its nine whakairo (carvings).

      The second option is a walking tour of Tolaga Bay and Cooks Cove. Cooks Cove is named after Captain James Cook, who stopped here in 1769 during his circumnavigation of New Zealand.

      Finally, “Learn to Surf” classes will be offered. Whether you’re a complete beginner or you just need to refresh your skills, our skilled instructors will have you riding the waves in no time…

      In the late afternoon all participants will be driven out to the local winery Matawhero. Here we will experience a premium wine tasting at Matawhero winery Cellar Door. Together, we’ll toast our accomplishments. From Matawhero we will continue to a restaurant where we will enjoy a Farewell Dinner.

      Meals: Dinner

      27 January 2025: Farewell Gisborne or Hello Extension
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      Sadly, it is time to say goodbye to Tairāwhiti Gisborne. After check-out, you’ll bid farewell to Aotearoa New Zealand – transfer to the domestic airport is included. Alternatively, if you’re not quite ready to say goodbye, join us for an exciting 6-day extension!

      Meals: None

  • Extensions

    • Excursions & Extensions for 2024 | 2025 TBC

      Learn To Surf – 26th January (3 Hours) $129

      Hop on a surfboard and get crash course in riding the waves

      Stingray Encounter – 24th January (2.5 Hours) $149
      Take a reef ecology tour and meet Stingrays, Eagle Rays, and other reef dwellers

      Gisborne Astro Tours – 25th January (2 Hours) $119
      Marvel at the celestial wonders of the Southern Hemisphere

      Maunga Hikurangi – 26th January (8 Hours) $TBA
      Embark on a tour to the sacred mountain that is the first to greet the sun each day

      Tolaga Bay – 26th January (5 Hours) $TBA
      Hike Cooks Cove Walkway and learn the history of local iwi Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti

      Lakes & Legends – 27th (6 Days) $2,960
      Trek the Tongariro Pass, relax in a Polynesian spa, and marvel at cavernous glow worms on this exciting tour

  • Packages & Rates

    • Marathon Tours & Travel First Light Marathon Package 2025 TBC

      For 2025 we plan to offer four accommodation packages to choose from starting at $TBC per person based on sharing a twin (2 beds) or double room (1 double bed). Each package includes the following inclusions:

      • 4 nights accommodation in Tairawhiti Gisborne
      • English-speaking tour leader
      • Arrival and departure transfer between the Tairawhiti Gisborne airport and hotels
      • Meals according to itinerary inc. Pasta Dinner
      • Powhiri (Maori welcome) incl. lunch
      • Guided shakeout run with a beer and fingerfood
      • Celebration dinner at a local vineyard

      Event Entries

      • Marathon – $TBC
      • Half marathon – $TBC

      Race entry includes

      • English-speaking race officials
      • Medical team
      • Time keeping and results
      • Manned water and supply stations along the route
      • Start number and medal
  • Hotels

    • Emerald Hotel

      Located in the city centre of Tairawhiti Gisborne, this 4-star hotel offers easy access to cafés, cultural attractions, and the inner harbour marina. The rooms are light and elegant, featuring TVs, complementary wi-fi, air conditioning, and amenities such as coffee machines, toiletries, and ironing boards.

      The hotel also boasts a beautiful tropical pool courtyard and a bistro. At Emerald Hotel you have the choice of staying in a Standard or Executive Suite. When staying at Emerald Hotel daily breakfast is included.

      Portside Hotel

      Sitting right on the water’s edge in the city centre, approximately 10 minutes’ drive from the airport, this 4-star hotel offers stylish and comfortable accommodations. The amenities in the rooms include, among others, complemetary wi-fi, air conditioning, TVs, and kitchen facilities including mini-fridges, microwaves, and dishwashers. The hotel also offers an outdoor lap pool as well as a cardio room where you can get your muscles warmed up in preparation for the race. At Portside Hotel you have the choice of staying in a Studio or a 1 bedroom suite. When staying at Portside Hotel Continetal breakfast is included.

      Please note that in the Studios only Queen beds are offered and are suitable for couples and solo travellers in own room.

      Senator Motor Inn

      At the Senator Motor Inn, you can enjoy lovely harbour views from the hotel’s prime location in Gisborne. Various bars, cafes and restaurants are just a stone’s throw away.

      The spacious, air-conditioned room have outside balconies with panoramic views, a kitchenette, and en-suite bathrooms. At Senator Motor Inn you have the choice of staying in a Studio or a 1 bedroom unit. Please note that in the Studios only have Queen beds and are therefore suitable for couples and solo travellers.

      Pacific Harbour Motor Inn

      Also in the city centre, this 4-star inn is one of the most sought-after motels in Tair whiti Gisborne. They offer comfortable, modern accommodations with great access to both the inner harbour marina and the downtown attractions. Amenities include air conditioning, free wi-fi, fridges, TVs, and outdoor BBQ area, and others. At Pacific Harbour Inn you have the choice of staying in a Studio or a 1 bedroom unit. Continental breakfast is included and brought to your room daily.

  • Event Information

    • Time limit

      The race officially ends at 13:30. This means that both marathon runners and half-marathon runners have a cut-off time of 7 hours. Any runners left on the route after this cut-off time will be collected by car.


      Remember, January is summertime in the southern hemisphere. Summer is the driest season in Tair?whiti Gisborne, but the chance of rain is still around 20% each day. Daytime temperatures will be warm and humid, on average around 24°C / 75°F.

      Route Logistics

      The route will be well-marked with many small flags, arrows, and kilometer signs. Water stations will be positioned along the route at approximately every 4 kilometers. Some stations will also serve energy drinks, bananas, and energy gels. Personal supplies can be deposited at the start/finish area in a staffed bag drop area. There will be toilets and post-race refreshments in the start/finish area as well.

      Start / Finish

      Both the marathon and the half-marathon will start and finish at the boardwalk next to Midway Beach. Bathrooms should be available before the race in the hotel. Refreshments will be waiting for you after the race in the start/finish area.

      Both the marathon and half-marathon will begin at 6:30 and end no later than 13:30.


      The First Light Marathon will be run on a variety of surfaces: pavement, dirt roads, grass, single-track trails, and sandy beach will all be included in this strenuous race.

      Route description

      Both the marathon and half-marathon runners will begin on the boardwalk next to Midway Beach. The race starts just before sunrise, and participants will follow the boardwalk out of Tairawhiti Gisborne until the first hills are reached. As runners crest the first hill, they’ll be rewarded with a view of the sun slowly rising out over the Pacific Ocean. You will be among the first people in the world to greet the new day as the sun illuminates the landscape around you.

      Both marathon and half-marathon runners will face a series of short, steep hills once they are out of the city. The race is a mix of single-track trails, roads, and off-road surfaces. Half-marathon runners will loop through the hills back toward the city, while marathon runners head out to Wainui Beach for roughly a kilometer through the sand next to the sparkling waves. Then, marathon runners will head back into the hills to tackle even more challenging climbs until they once again reach Tairawhiti Gisborne.

      Both half-marathon and marathon runners will finish the race on the same boardwalk where the race began, running onto Midway Beach for some well-deserved rest and refreshments.

      Note: Do not forget that this is first and foremost an adventure. We are far away from comforts of home and this makes it impossible to offer services at the same level usually provided in city marathons.

  • Registration & Booking

    • On Request bookings

      Request Bookings will confirm that you have accepted our Booking Conditions. Your booking is not however, guaranteed until our partner company confirms availability. Please expect confirmation of place within 1-3 days of making your booking. Your card payment details will still be required for the deposit to secure your space, though please be advised this information will be held securely, and the card will only be debited upon confirmation of booking.


      Albatros Adventure Marathons reserve the right to change the itinerary and/or running course without further notice in the event of extreme weather.

      By signing up for this event you agree to the Terms & Conditions.


      Please note that it is each traveler’s responsibility to check visa and passport requirements and ensure that they comply. Obtaining a passport and, if required, a visa, is solely the responsibility of each traveler. Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months after returning from your destination.

      Room options

      If you are a solo traveller and choose a shared double room when booking, we will pair you with another traveller of the same gender. If you prefer to have your own room, choose single room. A single supplement will apply.

      Travel insurance

      Travel insurance is an essential part of any holiday you take, and we highly recommend that you purchase suitable insurance for your trip.