Vlog by Florence: see below
We wake up at 6am. At 7am a shuttle comes to pick us up to drive us to the parking of the Egmont NP Visitor Centre, from where the Pouakai Crossing (route around Mt Taranaki) starts.
It’s a demanding 19 km day walk version of the popular 2/3-day 25 km Pouakai Circuit. It circumnavigates Mount Taranaki and takes in the highlights of this Pouakai Circuit. The reason I chose this walk is mainly because it apparently offers a much less crowded, equally scenic and just as challenging walk than its famous neighbour, The Tongariro Crossing (which we will also do, next week). I read that “this route around the perfect volcanic cone of Mt Taranaki is an Instagram-worthy contender for the country’s finest one-day walk. It is a thrilling hike exploring a varied volcanic and alpine landscape”. The crossing is one of two unmissable attractions highlighted by Lonely Planet when they named Taranaki as the second best region in the world to visit.
Unfortunately, as forecasted, the weather is very much cloudy. The weather forecast is so bad that I don’t even take my camera!
This 19km trek is estimated to be done in 8-9 hours. The shuttle will pick us up at the end, at 4:45pm.
We are approximately 15 trekkers (called trampers here in NZ) to start the trail at the same time (but we quickly split up).
The walk begins with a steady climb, quite tough, through bush land, lined on either side with native ferns, and with the imposing Mount Taranaki looming up ahead (very well hidden behind the clouds unfortunately).
We then walk on the side of the mountain. We arrive at Holly Hut around 11am, where we eat part of our lunch (sandwiches).
We then negotiate the alpine wetland (swamps). There is fortunately a boardwalk.
The track then climbs steeply through mountain cedar, up the Pouakai range onto the plateau (1,400 m above sea level), where is the second hut. It’s quite hard (there are steps).
We are well on time. We can stay 45’ in the hut (we know that the last descent takes less than 2 hours). We play cards.
From there, the trail descends to the road on the Mangorei Track, winding through cool forest dripping with mosses and lichens; it is like walking through an enchanted forest (with the twisted kamahi trees).
We are happy to see the van at the end, on Mangorei Road. Kids did well. We hardly saw the girls. Jules stayed with Isabelle and I most of the trek. He even carried the bag, which was carried by Isabelle the other 90% of the time.
We are happy to have done it. It’s a pity that the weather was cloudy and wet. We didn’t see much of the “breathtakingly dramatic scenery and expansive views”; we could only see the volcano during 5’ (with clouds on the summit). We are proud to have achieved this walk relatively quickly (we didn’t walk more than 7h). It was a nice walk. The path is very well maintained (with many boardwalks and steps. Strangely, we didn’t see any single animal, bird or even insect.
We come back to the camping around 6pm. I go to New World to buy groceries (including roasted chickens for tonight) while Isabelle does the laundry (facilities are usually available in these camping sites; 4$ per washer and 4$ per dryer) and the kids chillax.
We eat the (honey & soy) chicken with potatoes and apple sauce.