Battle Over Millennium Firsts

Countries first to enter Year 2000 fight for rights to "firsts"

There’s no question The Antarctic, the South Pacific Islands then New Zealand will see the dawn of the new millennium first. The International dateline sits along those areas and therefore the areas will see the New Year at least 20 hours before the West Coast of the United States. Now there’s a race for "firsts" in those countries: first wedding, first baby, first party and even the first bungee jump.

The Fijian islands of Vanua Luvu, Rambi and Tavenui are all bisected by the dateline and Fiji is claiming it will have the first wedding and the first baby. Not be outdone, New Zealand’s easternmost coastal area is revving up for some firsts of its own. The Chatham Islands will be the first area of New Zealand to see the New Year and the normally quiet area is going to be hopping with activity.

Pitt Island is home to just 50 people year-round, but on New Year’s the tiny island will have 500 people. There will be more visiting relatives and reporters than residents on the tiny island come January first. The island will be able to boast of being the "first" inhabited island to see the New Year.

In Queenstown, New Zealand they had to think of a first and think hard. They decided to auction off the first bungee jump of 2000! The money raised will go to charity.

On the eastern coast of Australia there are some folks planning to make a first with a lot of hard work. In the town of Bourke, grape pickers will begin work at midnight, press the fruit soon afterward and make the "first" wine of the new millennium, a Chardonnay. They won’t be able to toast the New Year with the wine since it won’t be ready for drinking for a few months.

In the South Pacific they have decided to name an island after the Year 2000. Millennium Island with no inhabitants is claiming to be the "first" land to see the new era. However, the ice in Antarctica will actually be a step ahead of the island. Although one is ice, the other land so they can both have firsts!

The firsts a lot of people in the United States will be interested in will be happening in New Zealand. It is the first industrialized nation to encounter the possible Y2K bug, and what happens in New Zealand could be an early warning system for th