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Saturday, 11 February 2012

Pouakai Northern Circuit


A wet and miserable Waitangi Saturday on Mt Taranaki. Here I ascended my favourite ridge, the Razorback, and climbed Jacob’s Ladder. Now on the Round-the-Mountain track, it was a downhill splash past the Dieffenbach Cliffs and across the Boomerang Slip to the hut. Wet & warm in only my polyester t-shirt and a buff, I had entered the comfortably drenched zone that all runners come to love, perhaps after some persuasion. I saved my Goretex jacket for later in the night when I’d need it most.

On my whistful way to Holly, I befriended a hunter along the trail. Not quite by choice… He was looking for his lost dog. I had lost his dog.
As I dashed around one typical corner, a moment of panic struck this hunter’s dog. Was I here to steal him from his master? The trail was narrow, as I approached at speed the dog chose to race off away from his owner. He was gone...
Holly Hut
We found the city dog sleeping at Holly Hut. I had frightened the mutt on his first run in the bush, and he scampered off in fear. Fortunately, he was able to follow the scent of hot food to the hut.
I, however, had to keep moving, otherwise hypothermia was going to get the best of me. The time was 6pm, Holly was full for Waitangi Weekend and the smell of cooked dinners was incredibly tempting. I stood in the doorway, one half crying out for warmth and dry - the other sensible half beckoning me to the trail. Darkness was soon approaching and I was only one third through the 3 day tramp. Just over 1 hour had elapsed since I had tip-toed out of the North Egmont carpark.

            Ascending to the Pouakai Ridgeline                 Wet and warm on the Razorback

After crossing the Ahukawakawa swamp, swampier than ever, I began to ascend the ridge to Pouakai Hut. Once a slippery grovel in the mud, I was grateful for the stairs to carry me efficiently to the Pouakai plateau. The views were spectacularly white, hardly a surprise, but ironic and slightly funny to read the viewing platform signs that promised fabulous views of the mountain and the White Cliff's on Taranaki's sweeping east coast.

The view from the Pouakai Ranges on a clear winter day...
The Pouakai circuit was a great little run that takes in some of the better trails of Taranaki’s upper circuit, combined with some rough but exciting bush running in the Pouakai Ranges. On a clear day, the best views of Taranaki would be had from the Pouakai’s. We live in a beautiful country. You can’t always see the beauty as you might expect, but on a wet & wild day on Taranaki you can definitely feel it!

Begin your trip at North Egmont VC and travel anti-clockwise or clockwise


  1. Hi there,
    It's so great that you're putting your stuff up here, Really useful for those of us planning what to attempt next. I have a question - I was thinking about doing the Pouakai Northern Circuit, how does it compare in difficulty to the Ruapehu Round the Mountain track?

    Cheers! Kat

  2. Hey Kat - I reckon you should do both! They're both great adventures, I'd recommend doing the Pouakai circuit as a warm up for the big RTM a few weeks apart. Summer is perfect time to do them. RTM is quite a bit harder and more remote around the long western section. You can find my other story on the Taranaki RTM under 'Syme to Syme'. Took us 11 hrs for the RTM, a big day. Pouakai took 4.5hrs. Good luck and let me know how you go!!
    (Sorry did this in Owen's account...)