The Longest Place Name In the World Wouldn’t Fit Into This Title

This name has more characters than Game of Thrones

The Hawke’s Bay region of New Zealand (HuttyMcphoo / CC BY-SA 2.5)

The longest word in the English dictionary is comprised of forty five characters. That is unbearably long for a word, any word. But as we all know, proper nouns are not included in the dictionary.

The longest name for any place in the world is made up of far more characters than a mere forty five. Our place’s name is made up of a whopping eighty five characters. That is nearly double the length of the longest word to be found in the English dictionary. So what is this awe inspiring name? And what kind of place bears it?

The name

A sign with the name featured. (Public domain)

Get ready. On your marks. Get set. Go.

The name reads:

Taumatawhakatangi­hangakoauauotamatea­turipukakapikimaunga­horonukupokaiwhen­uakitanatahu

Now blink. Blink again. Now read it one more time.

Taumatawhakatangi­hangakoauauotamatea­turipukakapikimaunga­horonukupokaiwhen­uakitanatahu

That is the written form of the name of a hill located in New Zealand with all eighty five of its glorious characters.

The name itself is derived from the traditional native language of Māori. They named the place in a way that tells a story of the origin of the name itself. The word translates, roughly, to:

The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the slider, climber of mountains, the land-swallower who traveled about, played his kōauau to his loved one.

A koauau is a type of flute.

The name of this place grew so long because Tamatea seems to have come with many titles. He was an avid, mythical, explorer in Māori culture and his exploits were well known. However, the name of this hill inherited all of those said titles. The slider. Climber of mountains. The Land-swallower. In a more truncated form the hill would simply be known as ‘The summit where Tamatea played his flute to his loved one’ and that would have been a much more manageable name.

The location

A sign at the park depicting the name. (Public domain)

Taumatawhakatangi­hangakoauauotamatea­turipukakapikimaunga­horonukupokaiwhen­uakitanatahu is a hill on the northern island of New Zealand that stands 1,000 feet above the surrounding countryside. It is a part of the beautiful Hawke’s Bay region of the country which features rolling hills, a stunning Pacific coastline and vineyards.

This hill was, presumably, first discovered by the explorer Tamatea who then proceeded to play a flute for his beloved while on the summit. Today, it is mostly known for its unusually long name but the area does offer views of the idyllic New Zealand countryside.

Name above all names

Taumatawhakatangi­hangakoauauotamatea­turipukakapikimaunga­horonukupokaiwhen­uakitanatahu is currently the Guinness World Record holder for the place with the longest name. The second longest place name only has 58 characters and is located in Wales.

So next time you’re filling out a form that requires you to put each individual character into one of those infuriating little boxes, remember that the name of your home town could always be longer. Much longer.

Professional freelance writer with an eye for history and storytelling. Mining stories from history is my passion. Sharing is caring.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store