The Goatman

There are stories that travel far back into Māori folklore, and forward to quite recently, of a mysterious entity, half man half goat, that has been encountered on lonely roads and outside of smaller towns all around the country. Most people refer to the creature by a simple, straightforward name, Goatman, sometimes Hoofman. Who or what is this Goatman creature?

Goatman
Goatman – Photo recreation by Matthew Tyler

Tales of goatlike creatures have circulated the globe for hundreds of years. They are said to lurk on the outer boundaries of suburban regions, living but a few kilometres from residential zones. Reports speak of them being around 7-8 feet tall, putrid smelling, covered in thick matted fur and rather vicious, sometimes clothed, sometimes naked, hairy and very wild. Witnesses claim it has a goatlike head and moves about on either two or four legs, depending on the circumstances and terrain, much like the wondrous mythical creatures embedded in Greek mythology.

The Goatman has been reported in many regions around New Zealand. Stories have come from Waiouru Military Camp, where it has scared witless a few who have lived there. This Goatman, however, is said to possibly be just a prank, sometimes played on the newbies to the camp. The creature has been sighted along the Desert Road, which runs past the Waiouru Camp region, leaping into the bush as cars approach. One reader told me his uncle claimed to have almost hit the creature in his old ute while driving the Desert Road back in the 1970s.

The Waioweka Gorge is another location of alleged Goatman appearances. These encounters, in particular, are said to be good omens. I was told that he is sometimes known to step out to approaching cars, asking for a lift, hence another of his given names, the Hitchhiker.

‘You stop and give him a lift, but just a short way up the road he asks to get out,’ said one believer/witness. ‘Sometimes he just disappears from the car, having safely gotten you past the stretch of road you were about to have an accident on. Just seeing him on a dangerous piece of road has avoided you from an accident about to happen, most probably right where he stood.’

I am told he is an ancestor who comes to warn of impending bad news or traumatic events to come. One reader that wrote to me told of her great-grandparents talking about the man with horse hooves. They spoke of having seen him in Rotorua and the Mamaku area. Others told me the creature is a spirit.

‘He lives on the Banana Bridge in the Paraparas,’ said WHO. ‘We call him the Hitchhiker. He is an old man whose car went over the bank. He pops up every so often, normally to help people who are having car troubles, or hitchhikers who are lost. He even pops up in cars on the way to a Tangi.’

The hitchhiking theme carried on with this story.

A strange looking man in a trench coat was hitchhiking the Waituhi Saddle Road in the early hours, in pitch-black darkness. My uncle picked him up. He didn’t say a word, just silence. As the truck headed on down the road towards Turangi, the man thumped on the door of the truck to be let off. When the truck came to a stop, the man jumped off the truck and disappeared into the night. My uncle said to me, ‘All you heard was clip … clop … clip … clop.’

Somehow, his lower half isn’t distinguishable until he’s in your car. He’s very smelly. If you don’t pick him up, something bad will happen. The legend was meant to be from around the Taupo region, but I’ve since heard others talking about him being as far up as Northland!

It is unsure whether these creatures are solid flesh and blood cryptids, interdimensional beings, aliens, ghosts or just straight up urban myth.

The Māori view on them is that they are Kaitiaki, or a guardian, an entity that protects the lakes and forests.

One ‘guardian’ I received information about was from the Maniapoto tribe. His name is Tarapikau. Known as being a traveller, he is said to occupy Maungatautari, a mountain range nestled in between Te Awamutu and Putaruru. He is believed to have originated from the Rangitoto ranges, King Country. I am told that this Goatman is one of two twins. One brings good, the other inflicting misfortune and death ‘because he’s impatient’.

9 Comments

  1. Jonni

    The Goatman is a name I haven’t heard in awhile. The story I was told is based around Desert road area. Tall dark cloaked figure wanting a ride. You pick Him up and He either signals to get out, or simply vanishes from your car. When He’s gotten out of car, nothing notibly odd until driver notices muddy wet goat prints left on passengers side floor mat .

  2. Rua

    We have a similar hitch hiker but his name was Te Kumi & he had a human body top but his hips down was hooves like horse frame… Travels up & down rivers in the Mangatu, Gisborne areas

  3. I have heard of this myth while growing up. One said they picked him up and drove down the road but when he looked into his rear vision mirror the hitchhiker had disappeared. I thought that was eerie at that time and have never forgotten the story. I sometimes wonder if he is real or not…

  4. Gabrielle Manunui

    Mum told me the story of the Taxi Driver who picked him up between Turangi & National Park in the 1950’s. A tall Person in a long Trenchcoat that said nothing, but when he got out, The Taxi Driver saw a Hoof.

  5. Tainawaka Potini

    I was born and bought up at Anaura Bay on the East Coast and my Mum and Dad use to talk about these but it was a half man half cow
    It had a face of a man but had red hair like horse mane and hooves and they would come out on misty as days
    I’m sure they called them Kerehus apparently my Dad met one while he was staying out in the back hill country on the East Coast and noticed the hooves when it realized my dad had noticed him he ran off and Jumped the Stock yard gates and disappeared and they could hear the clipity clop of hooves running down the gravel road my Dad would have been 115 years old if he was still alive

  6. Nissa

    My Aunty said she seen him as a kid down the whanganui river she said she was shit scared of him saying he’s going to kill her freaky that was in the 60’s out of it ???

  7. Rotorua / Taupo

    Me and my bros were driving to Taupo from Rotorua one time on the way to a party and we passed a guy in a trench coat hitch hiking in the middle of the fog with his arm out. We freaked out because we were in the middle of nowhere 11pm at and thick fog on the outskirts of Taupo where all the forestry blocks were now converted to dairy farm.

    Then years after I hear of this story about a half man/horse or goat his name is Wai Wai Kau who travels in and around Taupo & Murupara areas in the fog at night wearing a trench coat.

    Apparently a group of men up in the hills are playing cards on a rainy night inside a shack and they hear someone bang on the door but no one is at the door when they answer….On the third time they open it there’s a man standing there drenched from the rain, they invite him inside and ask him to play cards then one of the men notices his hooves and his red eyes… They all freak out and and abandon the shack jumping on their horses and flee..they were chased the out of the hills and all they could see was red eyes behind them and the steam venting from his nostrels.

    Creeps me out just writing this..

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