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Pouakai Hut and Tarns , Taranaki

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Pouakai Hut and Tarns Beginner - Intermediate

Submitted by Rob Edkins

Info Info
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Trail Information






New Plymouth

Front country - easily accessible

Out and Back


Native bush
Open tussock/grasslands
Open ridges/tops

Beginner - Intermediate

3:00 (Slow)
2:30 (Moderate)
2:00 (Fast)



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The start of the run is an easy 25 minute drive from central New Plymouth. Simply follow Mangorei Road from town toward the mountain, all the way to its end. The track proper begins about 2 min up a gravel driveway and dives straight into native forest.The path has been 'pedestrianised' with duckboards and steps made of 50mm x 50mm rails spaced close together. This makes it pretty impervious to weather, but somewhat alarming to run on, as it can be pretty greasy.

There are no side trails before the hut, so no ninja navigation skills are required, just head in the direction of'up' for approx 5.25 km. As you go steadily up the ridge, the track progresses through forest that slowly gives way to scrubby trees and low bushes until you finally emerge onto the bare ridge below the hut. There are several great spots for photo opps along the way and on a clear day the views of the coastal plains are stunning.

The Pouakai hut itself sits at the head of a gorge on a saddle between two hills. A short walk up behind the hut onto the Pouakai Track takes you to a plateau where you are face to face with the mountain himself, with great views of the Ahukawakawa Swamp down in the foreground. Heading east along the Pouakai Track through alpine meadow takes you to the Pouakai Tarns; still pools that mirror the mountain on calm days. The track continues onward to North Egmont and makes a big loop known as the Pouakai Circuit, but for this run you can retrace your steps back past the hut and return down the Mangorei track to the road.

It's a good workout on an easy track though the boardwalk can be a bit treacherous so it pays to be a bit cautious coming down.
The views can be amazing, but remember that this is mountain country and the weather can change very fast. Keep an eye on the forecast and take appropriate gear including waterproof and warm layers and let someone know your plans.

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Features of interest

Beech forest giving way to alpine shrubs as the path ascends. Alpine meadows with red tussock and alpine herbs and mosslands up on the ridges.
Spectacular views of Mt. Taranaki as well as the Pouakai and Kaitaki Ranges and the North Taranaki coast all the way to Albatross Point.

Make Up of Run

Easy Single Track: 95%

Gravel Road: 5%

Route Data


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Overlapping Runs

The following trails overlap with this run 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 Strava activity for each

Pouakai Summit

Pouakai Summit

Length: 16.70km

Mangorei to North Egmont

Mangorei to North Egmont

Length: 13.80km

Pouakai Crossing

Pouakai Crossing

Length: 18.00km


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Wild Explorers

I did it!
  • Access

    From New Plymouth, take Mangorei Road out of town and stay on it all the way up to its end at the start of Mangorei Track on the edge of Egmont National Park.

    There is some parking along the roadside back from the track head. It can get quite crowded on nice days.

    19 km

    22 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    Stay on the track, it's well marked all the way to the hut.
    Up on the Pouakai Track above the hut it can be easy to lose your bearings on the tundra in poor visibility so be cautious about venturing further in bad weather.
    Take a map and compass.

    Generally good.

    Waterproof leggings, Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Windproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Compass, Map.

    Water available at Pouakai hut.

    Cold winds on top throughout year.
    Snow and sleet common above treeline in winter.

    Mountain weather - wind chill and hypothermia risk.

  • Post run indulgence

    Bach on Breakwater
    Ocean View Parade New Plymouth (By the Lee Breakwater at the port)
    Great food with a varied menu, including vegan and GF and located right by the harbour.

    Joe's Garage
    162 Devon Street East
    Beers, gourmet hot dogs, wood-fired Pizza and amazing mince on toast! "You can't buy happiness. But you can dip fries in gravy. Same diff."

    Public Catering Company
    43A Queen Street, New Plymouth (In the old White Hart Hotel)
    Donuts and coffee to die for.

  • Sponsor this trail

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