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Flavour of New Zealand

NZ popular culture 1960 onward

Funky nz statistics

Excerpts from Strange Facts & True about New Zealand should be seen as having validity as of its publishing date of 1981.

Longest Placename

In the southern Hawke’s Bay district of the North Island, about 14 km from Porangahau, is a hill 300 m high which bears the longest placename now in use in the world. The unofficial version has 85 letters; Taumatawhakatangihangakaoauauotamatea (turipukakapikimaungahoronuku) pokaiwhenuakitanatahu and means: “the brow of the hill where Tamatea, the man with the big knees who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as Traveler, played on his flute to his loved one”. The official version does not include the letters in parenthesis, and thus has only 57 letters. For obvious reasons, the name is usually shortened to Taumata. 1

Furthest from the Sea

No part of New Zealand is more than 128 km from the sea. The furthest settlement from salt water is Garston, Southland. 1

Unique Spiral

The Raurimu Spiral, on the North Island Main Trunk Railway, is a unique piece of engineering. Designed by Mr R W Holmes, the spiral enables the railway to surmount an ascent of 217.6 m by means of a complete circle and 2 loops, one of them shaped like a very long horseshoe. The spiral involves a gradient of 1 in 50 and was opened to traffic on 6 November 1908. 1

Coal Shoveling

Robert Taylor of Greymouth broke the world record for filling a 508kg hopper with coal on 5 January 1980. His time, set at Westport, was 37 secs. 1

1  Strange Facts & True about New Zealand by Patricia Chapman