Mangorei track – Pouakai Ranges – Egmont National Park
The Pouakai ranges are part of the volcanic ranges just off Mount Taranaki in Egmont National Park. There are plenty of walks in the area including a crossing which is up there with some of the best hikes in New Zealand. As we were on limited time, we only managed the Mangorei track up to Pouakai hut and part of the Kaiauai track up to Henry Peak.
We arrived for an 8am start at the Mangorei track. From here it was 5km to the hut – a gentle climb all the way. There were already lots of cars parked alongside the road, and a lovely huge new car park and toilets in development. The Pouakai hut is the most popular in the park, so we expected it to be busy.
We weren’t carrying packs today and were traveling light, so we made it up to the hut by 9.15am. The trail took us on a short road walk through farmland before the beautiful boardwalk began in the forest. It was a lovely trail, easy elevation and fast going. There were only a couple of rocky steps and trees to negotiate. This would definitely be the kind of trail I’d do after work if I lived in the area.
The Pouakai Tarns
We passed the hut at 9am but didn’t stop. Instead we carried on to the small tarn (shallow lake) about 15 minutes walk above and to the left of the hut on the Pouakai track. We had hoped to get to the tarn before the wind got up. It’s one of those places where, on a perfect day, you can get a mirror image of the mountain (Taranaki) in the tarn.
We were just a little too late this time and the water on the tarn was already rippling in the gentle breeze. Nevertheless we got some stunning photos. The weather was great and there was hardly a cloud in the sky, just a few puffs forming over the Mount Taranaki summit. We stuck to the boardwalk around the tarn and I was pleased to see everyone else did too. Unbelievably, I later read that people had been caught jumping in the tarn and worse still, washing their dishes in it..😡 Grrr..
As it was such a nice day we didn’t fancy going back down immediately, so we continued on the boardwalk on the Kaiauai track which took us around the base of Maude peak and up to Henry Peak.
Mount Maude and Henry
The track was easy boardwalk, with a bit of a stiff climb up Mount Henry. Small ladders have been placed up the track for convenience, and were easy to negotiate. We reached the top of Henry Peak at 9.50am
All the way we’d had fabulous views as the forest had given way to low alpine bushes just before the Pouakai hut. The Ahukawakawa (sphagnum moss) swamp separates the Pouakai from Mount Taranaki, and you can see the biodiversity of the area all around you. We could see all the way down to New Plymouth and across the Taranaki bight.
We didn’t stay long on top of Henry Peak as there were huge clouds of does up there with us. Instead we took a few quick photos, had a quick bite to eat and left at 10am.
We were back at the hut before 11am and had a chat with the lovely DOC warden there. From there we made our way back down and were back at the car by 12.25pm.
This was a gem of a walk, and I’ll definitely visit again. The DOC lady told us that the hut occupants had got amazing photos of Taranaki in the evening sun. The still lake gave a perfect reflection. Maybe next time I’ll we’ll do it as part of the circuit.