Crossing the International Date Line

Crossing the International Date Line

I woke in Cairns on 9th June 2012 at 0230. I arrived in Rarotonga after about 16 hours of travel on 9th June 2012 at 0130. Read on to find out how:

I was at Cairns airport by 0330 – much too early for my 0530 flight. The usually busy check in desks were deserted.

Deserted Cairns Airport in the early morning

My itinerary had me travelling on the following flights:

  • 0530 Cairns to Brisbane
  • 0910 Brisbane to Auckland
  • 1915 Auckland to Rarotonga

My total flying time was scheduled to be 9 hours, with a five hour stopover in Auckland. Auckland airport was pretty comfortable, and I treated myself to a cup of New Zealand airport coffee while I waited, a flat white of course. Every Kiwi I’ve ever met has told me how fabulous the coffee is in New Zealand: the airport coffee was pretty good, so I think a “decent” cup of coffee in New Zealand proper must be something special.

A Flat White in Auckland

So how did I arrive before I left?

The secret was that I crossed the International Date Line, which is the arbitrary line demarcating one calendar day from the next. The International Date line follows a route from the North to the South Pole roughly along 180 degrees longitude, diametrically opposite from the Prime Meridian, which runs through Greenwich. Crossing this line marked the furthest I have ever been away from home in my entire life. Being an arbitrary construct, all I have to show you is a photo of the map from the in-flight entertainment system:

Crossing the International Date Line

Time Zones to the East of the line are calculated as being ahead of GMT. Time zones to the West of the line are behind GMT. Because I crossed the line going East to West, I went from being 11 hours ahead of London time to being 11 hours behind London time the previous day.


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