Goblin forest, Tararua Forest Park. © New Zealand TransitionThe 

The Goblin Forest: lush and fantastical forest

There be goblins, apparently. Truly? Well, not exactly... but if you dare to enter the Goblin Forest, you’ll be so bewildered by the beauty that you may even begin to have visions. You’d certainly be forgiven for thinking you heard Gollum addressing you personally.

So, what’s it all about, then? There are a series of stunning tracks and trails around the sides of the wonderfully symmetrical Mount Taranaki. You can, of course, make your way to the very summit, but that’s a whole other story and a completely different bag to pack. But the Kamahi Loop track requires little more than stout boots and a sense of adventure. A mere 15km from Stratford, the walk, depending on your proclivities and meanderings, can take in Dawsons Falls Wilkies Pool and a #14 bus.

Lied about the bus.

goblin forest

The moody trees in the Goblin Forest. © Jamie Young / FOAP

But really, the feature here is the very peculiar permutations of the native kamahi tree. In the lush rainforest — yep, be prepared for rain around here, whatever the time of year — the kamahi have often begun life by simply growing on the stumps and logs of other trees. No recent occurrence, some of these felled trees fell victim to the last ash shower eruptions from Mount Taranaki. Don’t worry, it was weeks ago... kidding! Last erupted in 1855. Breathe again, and walk.

For the walk is the prize — gnarled barely describes it.

The trees twist up, ferns provide an eerie gossamer layer to the whole thing, and hanging moss and other greenery add to the captivating experience. Eerie for some, enchanting to most, using your legs and imagination, it’s an experience not to be missed.

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