At the west end of the Forgotten World Highway is a rainforest like no other. Around the volcano of Taranaki nestles Egmont National Park, the nicknamed “Goblin Forest” famous for its waterfalls and gnarled, moss coated trees.
First, this trail, or set of trails, is fun. Just plain fun to hike up and down with plenty of variety in surface types, elevation changes, and scenery. The trail takes you from dense low forests to open rocky pools, across bridges and muddy stairs and stepping-stone paths.
The famous trees of the Goblin Forest are these thick-branched moss covered creatures which probably would look very spooky at night. During the day they’re vivid sun-dappled green, often covered in dew or rainfall.
The Kamahi tree is the dominant tree in this forest, unique in New Zealand. They sometimes start out growing on top of other trees, twisting their branches and creating the gnarled shape of the forest.
The high year-round humidity is a great environment for moss and lichen and they spread prodigiously here. Nearly every available surface is covered. In some areas the combination of twined branches and leafy outgrowths blocks a great deal of light, creating darkness in the daytime.
Along the way we saw rock-slides.
Then crossed a bridge, safe but bouncy.
To get to the Wilke pools.
There’s a tiny cove/cavern at the bottom. The water is instantly numbing. Great for a hot day or for icing a bruise. We did go “swimming” but only for a moment.
We climbed the rocks around the pools only to find more pools up higher – also extremely cold. Past this is technical rock climbing territory so we turned back.
And climbed some very muddy stairs.
To get great views of the forested mountainside.
And of the volcano itself.
Along the way we took some closeups of the flora..
The moss and ferns covering the trees, dense and superbly healthy.
And some very pretty white and pink flowers.
Capturing this was tough – the wind kept swaying the ring of flowers, but it was worth it. Natalie also took a couple of really nice insect shots, following below. They’re not everyone’s cup of tea so feel free to end the post here. For anyone who’s curious, scroll on.
A vivid orange mosquito-hawk (I think). You can see the little ball-ended stubs it uses to balance while it flies.
I don’t like flies, but this one has an amazing abdomen. That blue is unreal. It may be a bluebottle fly but I’m not sure.
The famous weta of New Zealand. We never saw one alive, nor did we see the amazingly huge ones they show in National Geographic, but it was cool to see these up close.
Natalie’s favorite creature, the jumping spider, poses for the camera. They have good enough eyesight to tell you apart from the background and often interact with the camera while you’re shooting.
This beautifully colored orbweaver is the Colaranea Viriditas.