Gisborne is still the first city to see the light of the new year, despite Samoa and Tokelau shifting to the New Zealand side of the dateline.

Thanks to planet Earth being tilted, the New Year sunrise still falls on the East Coast first.

Later in the year Apia will take bragging rights - the sun will rise further north as New Zealand moves into autumn and winter.

The Gisborne district used to brand itself as First to See the Light but Eastland Tourism marketing manager Kerry Taggart said the phrase is no longer used in promotional material.

"First to See the Light is subject to interpretation and argument, and we want to avoid that. Our new thrust is Out East as this conveys more of the imagery that we and our stakeholders want."

Samoa and Tokelau skipped a day on December 30 to synchronise with New Zealand and Australia, which are their main trading partners.