It is eerie hiking areas of Tongariro, where it is clear the land seems to be lacking something. Not too long ago Moas and Haasts' Eagles roamed these alpine areas. Now it is barren, with only the hardy Moa-proof plants remaining. Many of them developed intense thorns to protect their very small and thick leaves; only the harsh windy, rainy, and sometimes snowy environment remains that helped shape them. It was a land of giants. Moas twice the size of humans were hunted by eagles with a ten foot wingspan. Comparatively the eagles were very small to be able to bring down such large prey. I cannot even imagine how humans in this country would have fared if the they hadn't hunted the Moas to extinction as quickly as they did.
On the edges of the alpine scrub and in the protected gullies are forests of Mountain Beech and Mountain Toatoa. Both are hardy trees designed to withstand the constant winds that come whistling over Mt. Nguruhoe. Relatively short stature (especially in comparison to northern giants like the Kauri) and sparse, small, thick leaves characterise these woods along with loads of mosses and lichens. Gray Warblers abound, whistling their continuous cheery rythms, and Rifleman creep along branches, fluttering about hummingbird-like with their short wings and 5mm long tails.