Sections of this track can become impassable in winter conditions due to snow and ice. Check with Egmont National Park Visitor Centre for up to date track conditions.
Beginning at Taranaki / Egmont National Park Visitor Centre (North Egmont), the track can be walked in either direction. Two serviced backcountry huts with woodburners, toilets, water, bunks and mattresses provide overnight accommodation.
Time: 3 - 4 hr
Distance: 7.5 km
The Holly Hut Track climbs through montane forest and subalpine scrub, passing the turnoff to the Plateau. Walk beneath the towering lava columns of the Dieffenbach Cliffs and cross the Boomerang Slip.
Once past the Kokowai Track turnoff, the track gradually descends to the Ahukawakawa Track junction. Turn left for a 5 minute walk to solar powered Holly Hut. Minarapa Stream just prior to the hut can be impassable after heavy rain.
From the hut, a 30 minute (one way) side trip along the Bells Falls track will take you to the towering Bells Falls/ Te Rere o Tahurangi (31 m).
Time: 2 - 3 hr
Distance: 4.5 km
Return to the Ahukawakawa Track junction and follow the boardwalk across Ahukawakawa Swamp. This area is a wetland/swamp – while there is a boardwalk, expect water and mud on the track in places.
After crossing the headwaters of the Stony River/Hangatahua, the track ascends a ridge through mountain cedar to reach the Pouakai Track. Turn left here to take a 1 hr 30 min (return) detour to Pouakai Trig (1440 m). Turn right to follow Pouakai Track on to the Mangorei Track junction. Pouakai Hut is a 5 minute walk down the Mangorei Track.
The Mangorei Track is a good exit from the circuit if weather conditions are bad (allow 2 hr to Mangorei Road end).
Time: 5 - 7 hr
Distance: 13 km
Return uphill to the Pouakai Track junction and turn left to traverse open tussock lands, passing the scenic alpine tarns (pools) before skirting around Maude Peak.
The track then climbs Henry Peak (1220 m) before descending Kaiauai Track, passing the Kaiauai Shelter, to cross the swingbridge over the Kai Auahi Stream.
From here, the track continues through lowland forest, crossing several small streams before reaching the swingbridge across the Waiwhakaiho River. A short climb leads up to the Ram Track junction. Follow the Ram Track uphill to return to North Egmont road end.
All huts on the Pouakai Circuit require booking.
The track is steep in places. The surface can be muddy and wet and has tree roots and embedded rocks. Expect snow and ice in winter conditions.
Main rivers and streams are bridged apart from the Minarapa Stream just prior to Holly Hut and a couple of the smaller tributaries of the Waiwhakaiho River between Henry Peak and North Egmont. Some of these tributaries can flood at any time of the year.
Weather on Mt Taranaki is very changeable and difficult to predict. Before setting out, check the latest forecast on the MetService website or phone MetPhone: 0900 99 906. Carry enough clothing and equipment to ensure you are prepared to cope with any type of weather.
You need moderate to high levels of backcountry skills and experience. You need to be able to read a map, have undertaken tracks of a similar difficulty, have average or above fitness, and be able to traverse moderately steep slopes and rough ground.
Make sure you are well equipped to walk the Pouakai Circuit.
During winter and snow conditions you will need an ice axe and crampons, snow gaiters and goggles. You might want to consider carrying an avalanche transceiver, probe and snow shovel.
The mighty Ahukawakawa Swamp formed around 3500 years ago. This unique microclimate is home to many plant species, some unusual at this altitude, and others found nowhere else in the world.
Sedges, sphagnum moss, herbs, mosses and red tussock are common here, along with small orchids and flowering plants. The unique divaricating shrub Melicytus drucei is found only here and on the Pouakai Range.