First Light Marathon & Half 2025

25 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 2025. 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 Marathon 2025 with the option of either the Marathon or Half Marathon.

Prices and package information coming soon!

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 – £88

Celebration Party

Celebration Party

Celebration dinner at a local vineyard



Additional tours and excursions available

Travel Package Information

  • Itinerary

    • 2024 itinerary/4 Nights/18 - 22 January, 2024

      18 January 2024: Arrival in Tairawhiti Gisborne
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      All participants will arrive in Tairawhiti Gisborne either by a domestic flight or by bus. There are several options for domestic flights and buses. Tairawhiti 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 Tairawhiti Gisborne Airport, transport to the hotel is included.

      Around 18:00, all runners will gather for a relaxed shakeout run of approximately 5km, guided by your a local runner. 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, the group will gather for complimentary beer and finger food, where you can get to know your fellow marathon participants and raise a glass to the beginning of our Aotearoa New Zealand adventure.

      If you are joining from one of our post-tour extension packages, you will travel overland to meet the group for the 18:00 meet.

      Meals: Not included

      19 January 2024: Traditional Pawhiri
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      Early this morning, there is another optional excursion on offer, “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 Maori welcome ceremony, known as a pawhiri. A pawhiri is a special ritual of encounter and the perfect way for us to experience Maori traditions. It usually takes place at the Maori meeting grounds, called a marae. The ceremony involves singing, dancing, speeches and hongi (pressing of noses in greeting).

      After the ceremony, we will enjoy lunch at the marae. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to relax and enjoy the local area. Tonight we will join together for a pasta dinner.

      Meals: Lunch at the Powhiri & pasta dinner

      20 January 2024: 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. At the start line, a group of Maori will herald in the new day with Taonga paoro, traditional Maori instruments. 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 06:00am and will end at 14:00pm.

      In the evening you can meet other runners at Sunshine Brewery, a boutique brewery from the East Coast, and share your winnings and impressions of today’s run while tasting local top quality beer. The first beer is on us.

      In the evening you can meet other runners at Sunshine Brewery, a boutique brewery from the East Coast, and share your winnings and impressions of today’s run while tasting local top quality beer. The first beer is on us.

      Meals: Light lunch at the finish line

      21 January 2024: Optional Excursions & Celebration 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 exciting excursions. There will be several optional excursions today. The first option is a tour to Maunga Hikurangi, a sacred mountain of the Ngati Porou people. It is the first point on the mainland to see the sunrise each day. A Ngati Porou guide will teach us about the Maori 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 evening all participants will be driven out to the celebration dinner at a local vineyard. Together, we’ll toast our accomplishments and enjoy a delicious meal while the sun sets over the vineyard.

      Meals: Celebration Dinner

      22 January 2024: Farewell Gisborne or Hello Extension
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      Sadly, it is time to say goodbye to Tairawhiti 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: Not included

  • Extensions

    • Excursions & Extensions for 2024

      Learn To Surf – 21 January (3 Hours) £65

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

      Stingray Encounter – 19 January (2.5 Hours) £75
      Take a reef ecology tour and meet Stingrays, Eagle Rays, and other reef dwellers.

      Gisborne Astro Tours – 20 January (2 Hours) £60
      Marvel at the celestial wonders of the Southern Hemisphere.

      Maunga Hikurangi – 21 January (8 Hours) £210
      Embark on a tour to the sacred mountain that is the first to greet the sun each day.

      Tolaga Bay – 21 January (5 Hours) £38
      Hike Cooks Cove Walkway and learn the history of local iwi Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti.

      Lakes & Legends – 22 – 27 February (6 Days) £1495
      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 2024

      For 2024 we are offering four accommodation packages to choose from starting at £795 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 finger-food
      • Celebration dinner at a local vineyard

      Event Entries

      • Marathon – £88
      • Half marathon – £50

      Race entry includes

      • English-speaking race officials
      • Medical team
      • Timekeeping 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 stones throw away.

      The spacious, air-conditioned rooms 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, there are only Queen beds available 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 Tairwhiti 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 06:30am and end no later than 13:30pm.


      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 the 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.

  • Seven Continents Club ®

    • The Seven Continents Club®️ (SCC) offers a unique opportunity for runners to run on all seven continents of the globe, as well as providing numerous benefits to its members. The club operates as a global frequent traveller club for runners, offering waitlist priority for high-demand events, early pre-registration periods for a number of races in popular destinations and tour package vouchers for money off international tour packages. What’s more, Seven Continents Club®️ rewards all its members for the extraordinary achievement of running marathons on each continent with their own special finishers medal and certificate of completion. Join the SCC today!