You want the name of a place that’s as far in the middle of nowhere as you can get? In the rest of the world you say Timbuktu (in the lower reaches of the Sahara Desert); in New Zealand you say Eketāhuna – officially located in the lower reaches of the Tararua District, but usually associated with the Northern end of the Wairarapa.

Eketāhuna’s reputation as being in the sticks, or at the end of the earth isn’t exactly correct. In fact, it’s handily enough located on State Highway 2 about midway between Masterton to the south (38km) and Pahiatua to the north (30km).

Māori named the place Eketāhuna which translates as ‘we could paddle our waka no further up the river because there was a sandbank there and the water became too shallow’ – that is the long and descriptive translation; it translates directly as ‘land on the sandbank’ and the river in question is the little-heard-of-outside-the-town Makakahi River.

It’s a small river compared to say the Waikato or the Clutha, but it’s narrow, dark and pretty, and where it runs through Eketāhuna it has steep sides and almost seems like a partly buried artery.

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