The Pouakai Range is Mount Taranaki’s most recent volcanic predecessor. It’s the natural vantage point for up close views of the bigger volcanic sibling.
It rains a lot in these parts – around 7000 mm per year. Walking up the first section of the track (1 hour), this fact is blatantly apparent. Water collects in the hollows of the steps, DoC boardwalks sink into the mud and in times of rain, the track forms a stream. You should wear boots. And check the weather https://www.metservice.com/mountain/egmont-national-park
Mangorei Road intersects SH3 4.5 km from central New Plymouth. It continues 13.5 km to the road end, where the start of the track to Pouakai Hut is signposted.
It rains a lot in these parts – around 7000 mm per year. Walking up the first section of the track (1 hour), this fact is blatantly apparent. Water collects in the hollows of the steps, DoC boardwalks sink into the mud and in times of rain, the track forms a stream. You should wear boots.
On exiting the forest, the height of the vegetation lowers and the leatherwood scrub becomes dominant, with hebes and mingimingi. The drainage improves drastically and boardwalks aid the ascent. As you approach the Pouakai Hut (45 minutes),views of the Taranaki ring plain behind you are complemented with the dramatic escarpment of the Pouakai Range ahead. Wind funnels through the saddle below the hut and causes the tussock to shimmer. Low vegetation cowls in defiance. The scoured tops of the vegetation protrude only slightly above ground level.
Pouakai Hut (16 bunks) has toilets and drinking water. From here you should ascend the track behind to the top of the ridge (5 minutes). As you reach the rounded crest, the mountain slowly reveals itself, until standing atop the boulders and tussock, the enormous pyramidal bulk rises sombrely from the Ahukawakawa Swamp.
The Pouakai Range rises to the trig and forms the backdrop to the shattered rocks of Kiri Peak to the west. The undulating ridge of Maude Peak and Henry Peak descend with soothing contours to the base of the mountain and swamp. Holly Hut is a distant speck.
The real beauty of this vantage point is that everywhere you look, the views are strikingly different.
The Pouakai Range is Mount Taranaki’s most recent volcanic predecessor. Eruptions around 250,000 years ago were most noted for melting the snow and ice caps of the Ice Age’s chilly mantle and releasing massive lahars. These devastating mud flows washed down the mountainside and came to a halt near present day Oakura.
The label Pouakai is said to be derived from ‘Pou a kai’, the name of a mythological man devouring bird. It is also a name conferred on the moa, which were known to inhabit the area. Maori tradition tells of the Pouakai Ranges creating a barrier to Mount Taranaki reaching the sea on his flee from Mount Tongariro.
The original route to the summit followed Carrington Road to the home of Reverend HH Brown, who offered fine hospitality to travellers. At the junction with Kiri Stream, climbers would then follow a spur to meet the Mangorei Road Track and Mangorei Hut. The route then followed the base of The Hump down to the Ahukawakawa Swamp, proceeding to Holly Hut, round the base of the Dome to Bells Falls. From there the route climbed up The Turtle to the summit.
North Island ▷ Taranaki ▷ New Plymouth
We have been there when it was super windy and with a lot of rain. Track is nice, built out of timber. All you do is walking upstairs (2 hours). After you reached the hut it takes 15-20 minutes to get to the "Mirror Lakes". (4 hours return if you take your time).
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Mangorei Track has been upgraded to a high standard (was very muddy) now very good, suitable for many people. Pouakai Hut is very well maintained. Above hut great views of Mt Taranaki can be seen.
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IMHO this is the best track and hut to take a pre-teen family. The hut is basic DOC with two bunk rooms, table & form seating, pot belly stove, steel cooking benches, tank water, great (new style) toilet. PLEASE NOTE THE HUT IS NOT FREE: $15 /adult/night, $5 /youth/night, child/infant free. The Backcountry Hut Pass or Hut Tickets are required.
The view from the deck at the front of the hut over New Plymouth & North Taranaki, especially at night is worth the trip. The view from the Pouakai Plateau, 5 minutes above and behind the hut, both over the province and south towards Mt Taranaki is breathtaking. A large portion of the Mangorei track is now benched with timber to reduce the mud, and is much easier to negotiate.
Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍