When people go traveling they often have a bucket list. Some people want to make it to the other side of the world, others want to climb the highest mountain, some want to see the most temples, others want to witness the greatest natural spectacles. For many, it is about extremes and superlatives. The highest, biggest, longest, strongest, widest, tallest, whatever it is, it is about seeing the best of the best. Well, for all you intrepid travelers we have one more adventure for you to add to your list. Have you ever been to the place with the longest name on Earth?
People travel to New Zealand for many reasons. It was where the Lord of the Rings was filmed so many choose to go there to see Hobbiton or Mount Doom. Others go to New Zealand because they are sports fans and want to see the greatest team in the world play rugby, the All Blacks. Others still go to see the pristine lakes and beautiful mountains. Many more go because it is seen as the adventure capital of the world where bungee jumping was actually invented.
Yet very few travel all the way to New Zealand simply to see the place with the longest name. The place with the longest name in the world is none other than Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu. You will be slightly relieved to know that this is not a city or a town, can you imagine having to write that on a letter in the post, or trying to order something online? There is no box large enough to allow that many characters.
No, in actual fact Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu is a hill. It is located on the North Island of New Zealand near Hawke’s Bay and is over 300 meters in height. Take a few seconds and see if you can actually say the name out loud because it is incredibly difficult. Although there is a video tutorial online for those who wish to try.
The name comes from the Maori people and it means “The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the slider, climber of mountains, the land-swallower who traveled about, played his nose flute to his loved one”. Tamatea sure sounds like an incredible man with his big knees and ability to play the nose flute.
He was a warrior and chief of a Maori tribe. He took part in a battle on this hill where his brother sadly perished. Tamatea was so upset that he remained on the hill for many days playing sad songs on his nose flute. That was how it got its name.
While the place brings much joy to the people who are near it and any tourists who pass by, there is one place who surely despite it. Deep in the countryside of wales, there is another place name called Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. This 58 character place name is often quoted as being the longest place name in the world but it doesn’t come close to the 85 characters used for the New Zealand hill. In addition, the translation is not as great either. The Welsh place simply translates to “St Mary’s Church in the Hollow of the White Hazel near a Rapid Whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio near the Red Cave”.
It appears that New Zealand has had one over Wales in rugby for years and can now claim another victory as well. However as the Welsh place was only named this in the 1860s as part of a publicity stunt, we wouldn’t put it past them to try squeezing on a few more characters to get the win now. The Maori hill of New Zealand though is steeped in history and will always hold the number one spot for us.