Last Updated: 17th Apr 2024


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Pouakai Circuit

New Plymouth, Taranaki

Submitted by Chris Wheatley

Last Updated: 17th Apr 2024


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Grunt Factor: 46 ?

Gnarl Factor: 60 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible


Very hilly

Native bush

Open tussock/grasslands

Open ridges/tops

Run Makeup


Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +12.6%

Average Downhill Gradient: -11.6%


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Estimated Times to Run







Take the Holly Hutt trail (also has the yellow Pouakai Crossing markers) to the immediate left hand side of the historic camp house. The track gently climbs for a couple of minutes before steepening climbing the stairs for approximately 1.5kms and crossing the Razorback Ridge. From here the trail takes you beneath the spectacular Dieffenbach cliffs and across Boomerang slip, be careful here as the slip is quite unstable. Remember to look up towards the summit as you pass through the valleys for amazing views that change as you make your way around the mountain. The trail continues from here with an overall downhill gradient passing the site of the huge slip that closed the track (this has had extensive reconstruction work to rebuild the trail) before meeting the junction with the Kokowai Track and continue on towards Holly Hutt.

After the steep descent from Henry’s peak the trail leads down to Kaiauai Shelter (no water available here) and several stream crossings including 2 swing bridges. After the second swing bridge there is a short climb up the side of the valley and you meet an intersection with the Ram track. Take this track as it climbs through the bush to return to the carpark next to the Camp house. 

It's worth noting that the section from above the razorback at the Round the Mountain track junction all the way around to the Pouakai Hut is part of a big project to ‘improve’ the track and make it more accessible, called the Taranaki Crossing. Significant works planned over the coming years so don’t be surprised if you come across people working rebuilding the trail.

This trail includes the peak Henry Peak.

Lots of incredible sights of the mountain including crossing the Ahukawakawa Swamp and past the Tarns (look out for the reflection in the lake).

If you know of any public toilets near the trail start or on the route, please login and then let us know so we can update this section.

There is quite a lot of parking at the centre however at peak times it can become full and restrictions put in place (one out, one in) so get in early. The track can get very busy too during peak times.

27 km

27 minutes





Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Map

Water is only available with little side trips to Holly Hut and Pouakai Hut. Kaiauai Shelter does not have any water supply.

Winter time often has snow on the upper section above the bush line. Following rain the lower section gets pretty muddy.

North Egmont Visitors Centre
Top of Egmont Rd
Closest spot for a post run coffee if you cannot hang on to return to town.

Trail Legend

Brad  Rivers

Brad Rivers

has completed Pouakai Circuit once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Loved this so much, such a great trail with a bit of everything in it from ridgeline climbing, to freewheeling on gradual slope trails around the side of the mountain and across spectacular terrain, up and down steps and boardwalk, and bogging it through mud and roots. This was one of my all time favourites.

The route description is a little light though for a route passing so many forks. It's very navigable with a good sense of where you are going, but it would certainly pay to have a GPS trace, topo map, and familiarise yourself with the trail names before heading out, if new to the area.

Jonathan Drake

February 5

A great day out. Very easy to follow. I started at the lower carpark (Kaiauai carpark), and it was a great way to start, with some bush-bashing through overgrown track. Really cool mix of different terrains (and weather!). Glad I had my jacket and thermals and beanie and gloves, so I could make a side trip up to the Pouakai summit - the wind and mist and rain making it an adventure! Also took the earlier side trip to Bells Falls - this track was quite overgrown, but worth the rock hopping at the end to get close. Each side trip took about 50mins (total moving time for circuit with side trips was 6hr30 for me). I was after time on the feet, and was easy to add on another overlapping track. Cool to see others out enjoying this cool track, even tho the weather meant there weren't the cool views.

Kerri Dewe

December 26, 2023

This track just keeps getting better with the work DOC are doing. Definitely recommend starting from the lower car park.

Tom Brennan

January 2, 2023

What a wonderful asset - big congrats to doc for all the track building/boardwalking to convert such gnarly terrain into something so runnable. Just one word of warning- very limited water through the middle section.

Mike McManaway

May 28, 2021

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Overlapping Trails

These overlap with this trail to some degree. You may wish to combine them but please note that to qualify for FKTs on these runs you should record a separate activity for each.

Tahurangi Traverse

Tahurangi Traverse

Length: 8.0km

Level: Beginner - Intermediate

Holly Hutt Track

Holly Hutt Track

Length: 16.0km

Level: Intermediate

Kokowai Loop

Kokowai Loop

Length: 13.0km

Level: Intermediate

Mangorei to North Egmont

Mangorei to North Egmont

Length: 13.8km

Level: Intermediate

Pouakai Crossing

Pouakai Crossing

Length: 18.0km

Level: Beginner - Intermediate

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Meeting of the Waters

Meeting of the Waters

Length: 6.1km

Level: Beginner

Davies Track

Davies Track

Length: 9.0km

Level: Beginner - Intermediate

Lake Mangamahoe

Lake Mangamahoe

Length: 7.0km

Level: Beginner - Intermediate

Pouakai Summit

Pouakai Summit

Length: 16.7km

Level: Intermediate

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