I started planning for this trip to New Zealand five months ago and in a couple of hours, we will be boarding our flight to San Francisco, then on to Auckland, New Zealand. I am having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that we are leaving tonight (Thursday) at 11 pm from SFO and will arrive in Auckland shortly after sunrise on SATURDAY. Equally weird, on our return, we leave on a Tuesday at 2 pm and our plane touches down here in Austin the same day, an hour later.
I knew a little bit about New Zealand, but planning the trip was more of a challenge than usual because I simply didn’t know the lay of the land. One of the challenges has been the names of towns. A large portion of the names are in Maori, an Eastern Polynesian language spoken by the Māori people, the indigenous population of New Zealand. I did learn that the vowels are pronounced the same as in the Spanish language. One major difference is WH Is generally pronounced like an F (the top front teeth and bottom lip barely touch). A significant thing to know since a lot of towns start with Wh.
There is one name of a town in New Zealand that would stump most people and that is the longest name place of any in the world per the Guiness World Records. Located near Porangahau in Hawke’s Bay (North Island wine country) is Taumata whakatangi hangakoauau o tamatea turi pukakapiki maunga horo nuku pokai whenua kitanatahu”, which translates into English as “the place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as ‘landeater’, played his flute to his loved one.” Locals simply call it Taumata Hill.