Filmmaker and paranormal investigator Marc Coppell. Photo by Victoria Birkinshaw.

Moehau Man: is there a bigfoot in the Coromandel?


You don’t have to venture too far into the New Zealand bush to feel truly alone.

Cast into semi-permanent darkness by thickets of dense, verdant undergrowth and heavy canopies of overhanging ferns, many an unprepared hiker has found themselves lost and increasingly panicked in our forests. Do we truly know what could be lurking out there in our native bush?

One New Zealander looking to unravel that mystery is filmmaker and paranormal investigator Marc Coppell. After many years spent overseas investigating mysterious phenomenon, including Nevada paranormal hotspot ‘Skinwalker Ranch’, Marc returned to Aotearoa to investigate mysteries closer to home. From the beginning, one of his main areas of interest was the Coromandel ranges, deep in the foothills of Mount Moehau.

Feature Moehau INP

Marc Coppell has come across areas of bush in the Coromandel with inexplicably crushed trees. Photo by Mark Coppell.

“I wanted to explore historical areas in the wild. I discovered Māori folklore talking about these giants that they were terrified of. I had no idea we even had something called the Moehau Man.”

Mount Moehau (also called Te Moengahau-o-Tamatekapua, the windy sleeping place of Tamatekapua) is a sacred mountain of the Marutūāhu, a collective of five iwi in the Hauraki region. Many important chiefs are buried there, and it is also said in Māori mythology to be home to both Patupaiarehe, fairy-like supernatural beings (he iwi atua), and moehau (or maeroero), a large bipedal creature covered in a thick coat of hair.

“When I was out there, I would hear footfalls and have the feeling of being watched. Sometimes things [were] getting thrown at me. I’ve recorded strange voices. I even found large footprints.”

After multiple experiences like this, Marc sought out others who had witnessed similar phenomena. “People have contacted me and many of them are very troubled with their sightings. Some of them don't want to go back to the wild again. It's happened to people across the board, we're talking about academics, skeptics, children, hikers, campers, just people who are going to areas that are very remote away from the general public."

Feature Moehau portrait INP

Marc Coppell has made a documentary about his experiences with unexplained phenomena in the Coromandel. Photo by Vitoria Birkinshaw.

These encounters and testimonies became a crucial part of Marc's recent documentary, The X Rated Files: followed from Skinwalker. The project consolidates 10 years’ worth of research and footage, captured with assistance of high-tech audio recording equipment, instrumental transcommunication (ITC), and infrared and thermal cameras.

Addressing the scepticism that often surrounds his work, Marc acknowledges many people find it difficult to believe the phenomena he investigates.

“People laugh at me, say this is crazy. But they just want to protect their own bias. They don't ever investigate it themselves. When you actually get out there and go investigate this stuff, and you put a lot of effort into it, your odds of having an experience go right up,” Marc says.

“What is going on is really amazing to me. Especially these strange voices. No one that has listened to the voices [I’ve recorded] has been able to debunk them.

“When you investigate it, you realise that where there's smoke, there's fire.”


Story by Emily Draper for the Winter 2024 issue of AA Directions Magazine. Emily Draper is the Deputy Editor of AA Directions Magazine.

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