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 – 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’.


  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

    1. Ngawai Bloomfield

      Kia Ora I’m from mangatu I can relate to Rua story Yes Te Kumi, myth or legend I believe why my tipuna seen him my uncle even wrote a story

    2. shellina wharepapa

      He saved my friends and her 3 kids lives one night along the jeru straight just before Ruatoria, we call him Mawini and one night she was traveling back from Gisborne with her 3 babies, when she came to the jeru straight and looked in her rear vision mirror and mawini was in her car, she swerved in fright and as she swerved she saw a cow that was in her lane and if she hadn’t of swerved she would of plowed straight in to the cow and who knows what may have been.

  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…

    1. Tanysha

      He’s real . Witnesses with my own eyes . Although I only saw him in the corner of my eyes as I was travelling at night on me own as I was falling asleep at the wheel.

  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..

  8. Kauwiti Selwyn

    Kia ora ra e roopu!

    Kia ora,

    Before i write what i saw and what i experienced on the roads heading down from Auckland to Whanganui. All the stories that are in regards to the “Goatman” are true, i remember what my old kuia said about the Goatman and what i have read on this website. I kinda wish i didnt read them.

    Only because what my Nana said is now 1,000% true. I know its abit exagerrating, But, now i believe its true.

    (going to write my experience)

    As my partner and i were making our way to Whanganui to a function in (Ratana Pa). I drove from Auckland all the down to Raetihi and during our way down it was clear as night you could see the moon shining, stars shinning bright, nonetheless it was clear. Yet I SAW NO SIGN OF THE GOATMAN/HITCHHIKER/WAIWAIKAU.

    However, my partner and i decided to swap over and my partner will take the wheel in Raetihi.

    Raetihi is about 1 hour away from Whanganui. (Travelled through the Paraparas) During the drive i was driving, my partner had 4 hours worth of rest until she took the wheel in Raetihi. Heres the scary part, as we were driving down the paraparas somehow we crashed into an animal.

    In great shock that my Partner was feeling. She wouldnt stop the vehicle but all she said was “that was no animal but a huge figure with red eyes” things went worse when she kept looking in the rearview mirror. It was then I knew it was a sign to leave ASAP took me awhile to calm down my partner. The car was badly hit, unfortunately all of the passenger side was smacked up pretty hard.

    Still to this day, it brings shivers to our spines just trying to explain what it was. Furthermore we made it safely, in regards to the car.. saddly it was written off.

    i have got photos of the car and there was fur stuck on the side of the windscreen on the passenger side.

    I hope this read is good and i hope you all stay safe and respect the sacredness from within our wairua realm.

    Ki a pai to tatou ra!

    1. MamaOf5Boyz

      i had a similar happening but i didnt hit him.. but he ran into the middle of the road from no where! it was on a straight i would have seen it in the headlights but i didnt not until i almost hit him.. he was huge i never saw his eyes.. but he had long shaggy fur

  9. Destiny

    I have heard the story about the goatman before sceen on the road between Taumarunui and Turangi and that he is only sceen at night on one streatch of road then he ask to get out and when he gets out and you start drving away and you look back you see the person standing on two legs with the bottom of his body being that of a goat

  10. Gabrielle Manunui

    I know i’ve already left a comment here, but i see others have come forward and left their accounts of what had happened.
    The 2 descriptions that really stand out are the pointing straight ahead & the Red eyes.
    The stories with the Red Eyes come afterwards when i left my story over a Year ago.

    I was driving North from Taranaki to Auckland about 2010 to fly out to Melbourne the following morning.
    9.30 that night i was driving through Tongaporutu, (Where the 3 Sisters used to be), & 10mins south of Mokau.
    Just past the rest area on the north side of the bridge at Tongaporutu, there was a large Wolf like figure staring straight at Me with those bright red eyes. To Me, it looked like this thing was asleep.
    I know this might sound crazy, but i tell You what, I didn’t tell anyone about this until i come back here to this page & read of other People having a similar experience.

    I do not think i could ever doubt anyone & their encounters of what they saw.
    I think it is fair to say that there are two different demons that have been described in this page.
    I know who the Hoofman is.
    But what i saw that night was not a goat, but rather than a large Wolf or Dog.

    1. D.

      Kia ora ra

      I was restless tonight, and started thinking about this this Halfman half dog or wolf creature I remembered seeing out side my window on Taupo Road in Matapuna Taumarunui when I was still going to high school.
      I was sort of halfway between asleep and awake, when I saw him ..
      But I remember being sh…t scared at the time and was sweating …didn’t want to go back to sleep..
      Ever since then I wasn’t too sure if it was
      dream or I had just emagined it ??
      Until now hereing your korero!

      Ngaa mihi Kia koe

  11. Nik

    Fantastic stories of accounts that have been told in the past and experiences you have all shared here.

    Waikau is our horse Hooveman he can beguile any woman and woman find him irresistible and is dressed like a preacher wearing the white collar as well. He is very smartly dressed and rides a white stallion. He was always seen in the valley of Kahuwera maunga in Piopio back in the 1900 to 1960s. Our elders respect Waikau but we have also heard from our Tuwharetoa whanau that their is a elderly woman with hoove feet she has a tartan blanket wrapped around her to hide her legs but her hooves get exposed when she sits. In the 1960s an 1970s she would be at bus stops and wait for the bus board it and travel short distances and than exit the bus again the drivers of these buses have told the story my question is who else can tell stories here of the female hooveperson please share and especially her name

  12. george henry

    I grew up in rarotonga, cook islands and lived there until i was 18. There was talk of a goat woman there who would sometimes appear at night and on the road in front of you, dressed in a white, wedding like dress and standing upright on two hooves. She had a womans upper body and goat legs visible below her dress. If you saw her, you were to turn back and go in the direction you just came from. Those that carried on thru…were involved in major accidents and some died. But not before telling about the goat woman. I personally never saw her.

  13. vins707

    My brother has seen this half goat half man in the Urewera’s. When he was young he went to stay with our uncle. My uncle and cousins had also seen this creature but they used to send my brother into the bush to move horses and supplies. He told me he saw the creature with feet of a goat, body of a man and head of a goat. He carried on back the other way and left the creature as if he hadn’t seen it. It left him alone as well but he said the cousins had asked him about it and they were scared. My brother said if you think too much about it you will get scared but he said you can’t over-think it. That will stop you hunting in the bush.

  14. Mere

    Ive heard about Mawene or Mawini (Sorry havent been around home very long, I live in Gizzy but visit Ruatoria now n then). And Ive heard a few stories about our goatman. My babys father reckons people have seen him amongst the community sometimes in secret and I also had a mate say his parents were playing cards in a shack somewhere up the coast I think and he was only a little boy. He managed to have a reason to go under the table and boom this random guy who secretly made his way in to play cards had hooves like a goat but when he first walked in he had feet lol There was more to the story but I would prefer it to be told in proper detail but from what I can remember what Ive shared so far is what the bro said. Buzzy korero aye lol

  15. Ahch Brabyn Kerei

    They travel through portals.

    Traveling to Waikato on a drizzling afternoon from the central plateau where I abide.
    To pick up my sister’s cat they couldn’t take to the house they were about to rent.
    I was following behind a car before the old Waikune prison camp area. It kept on speeding up on the little straights so I couldn’t pass it . But unbeknown to that driver, I know the roads only to well.
    So I waited my chance at the beginning of the National Park straight.
    *As I began to pass this car before it decided to speed up, (NO ONCOMING TRAFFIC) I inched my nose ahead of it deciding it’s time to pull in. As I pulled in, I looked in my side mirror (Raining by this time) and there was a southbound car about 30, 40 metres back?????
    “Where the hell did that car come from” ?????
    I had to pinch myself when I got to National Park???
    3pm on a Friday afternoon this occurred. Actually, 2:59 exact!
    I was thinking, I was either in a bad car accident, or something, someone, had just saved my life.
    Still in shock?? I pulled into Taumarunui, noticed my time, it was 3:35pm. A passerbys time including the towns clock was exactly 3:34pm
    I got to Waikato. Picked up our new cat (Ziggy). Had kfc with my sister and moko. Then made my way home by 8pm.
    I got home, put Ziggy inside for the night. My boys & my other sister and her moko girls living with us at the time were all happy to see us home safely…
    “But was I” ?????
    Well, this is where the story gets even more weird.
    I was still pinching​ myself days and weeks later ????
    “Where am I” ????
    “What’s happening to me” ????
    “Why am I seeing (ONE MINUTE) into everyone’s future ????
    ONE MINUTE ahead of the world ????
    “Why can’t I share the experience I encountered in National Park to anyone” ????
    Or more curious about why The Most High has given me this opportunity, this experience to​ see ONE MINUTE before the rest of the world could see ????..

    Well, almost 2 months later I shared the National Park experience to my well trusted friend. And he TOTALLY accepted my experience.
    He understood it! Wow!!
    Someone on the same path, same page.
    And he’s from Murupara.
    So, the very moment I shared my experience,
    I lost it.
    I lost that ONE MINUTE of opportunity, on the world.

    *Now, that very stretch of road this experience occurred,
    Is exactly the stretch of road my dad and uncle picked up the hoofman.
    They were working the old Whakapapa dam site back then.
    And he told my mum of the hoofman.
    And when they let him out further down the road, “clip clop, clip clop, clip clop.
    And very sadly that same early hour of that morning, a few Italian tunnelers would loose their lives. Including my dad’s best friend Mario.

    Once again.
    I believe they travel through the portals.
    Spiritual realms.

    KJV Isaiah 5:20

  16. Ebony

    My friend’s Koro once told us children a story about The Hitchhiker.

    We lived in Turangi but this story takes place near the Opotaka reserve overlooking Lake Rotoaira. This is on Te Ponanga Saddle Road (State Highway 47) between Turangi / Tokaanu and Tongariro / Otukou

    My friends Koro (Grandad) was driving home to Otukou from Turangi after work one night. It Winter so it was dark, cold and wet. He’d lived in the area his entire life so he knew the area well. He also knew the road well because he drove it most days. If anything was out of the ordinary, he’d know.

    On this night that he was driving home. The road is usually quiet and my friend said he was the only driver on this stretch of road. He’d started getting a feeling of unease as he was driving down the hill toward the Opotaka Reserve. The hill is a steady decline (it’s a road I’ve travelled on many times) and so it would have given him plenty of time to have seen anything.

    The reserve overlooks Lake Rotoaira and has a picnic table and small looped gravel carpark where people can drive in and off the main road. As my friends Koro was passing that reserve, he’d seen someone standing in the carpark from the corner of his eye. He only drove a few 100 metres past the reserve before stopping and doing a U turn to check out what was happening. It was raining hard out by this point so he wanted to make sure they were okay.

    When he went back there was no one there. He did the loop of the carpark with high beams on for a few moments because heading back onto the main road. As he was about to turn left, his path out of the carpark was being blocked by a figure. It was tall with a dark trench coat and hairy legs.

    He knew of the stories of the creatures that lived around the lake. He referred to this one as Koro because he’d heard from his Nan that the ones around the lake were their ancestors. The ancestors were once people who had been transformed into a being that could be immortal and survive living in the bush. His Nanny told him to always offer them a ride because it sometimes they lose their way along the road (this being because roads weren’t around during the ancestors time).

    So my friends koro rolled down his window and yelled to the Koro outside asking if he needed a ride. The figure suddenly disappeared which took my friends Koro by surprise. After a few moments, he decided to say a small farewell and drive off. A couple of seconds after being on the road toward home. He could smell a wet dog in the back of his car and heard something breathing. My friends Koro looked in the rear view and saw Koro sitting right in the middle seat just starting back at him. His eyes were red but my friends grandad said it was like Koro was looking beyond him. The grandad felt at ease at this and just kept driving.

    He decided to drive slowly in case Koro wanted to get out at some point. Once he’d reached a small bend in the road. The smell and breathing stopped. The grandad stopped feeling uneasy and drove home safely. He believes that the uneasiness was because of the road rather than Koro. He thinks that Koro saved him from an ugly car crash which he was grateful for. If he hadn’t U turned, who knows what would have happened.

    Sorry for the long story. Just reading everyone’s experiences reminded me of this story.

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