Iconic Taranaki views
On a clear day, Henry Peak in Egmont National Park is a memorable destination for strong hikers. Over the course of three heart-pounding hours, you’ll climb through forest, wander along tussock, see the iconic Pouakai Tarns, and gain a spectacular 360-degree view. This trail is actually part of the famed Pouakai Circuit and is a nice option if you don’t have two cars or want to avoid the congestion of the North Egmont visitor centre.
From the top of Mangorei Road, the trail begins on a gravel road before entering the forest after about 10 minutes. It’s not too steep to begin with and passes by huge rimu trees covered in epiphytes. The forest’s birdlife is slowly increasing thanks to a huge effort to make Taranaki predator-free by 2050. Millions of dollars have been invested in an extensive trapping network to remove all non-native predators to help native birds, insects, and lizards thrive.
The trail gradually climbs a lengthy series of boardwalks and steps that DOC has built to avoid the mud and prevent erosion. It may start out moderately, but the going steepens for a good hour. However, once you hit the area that flattens out in the head-high bush, the steep part is mostly over.
At Pt1232, the trail veers to the left. This section may have some wet and muddy spots. Pouakai Hut will soon be visible just below the ridgetop up to the left. Before arriving at the hut, the trail pops out of the bush and crosses a saddle that will reveal how windy it is. The trail is exposed from here on and you may want to have a break at the hut to see if the weather settles.
A few minutes past the hut, above the bushline in the tussock, the trail comes to a boulder-strewn plateau that has a view that blows me away every time. At the top of the ridge, a seemingly monstrous Mt Taranaki looms across the Ahukawakawa Swamp. The plateau is my favourite place on the mountain. It’s a nice picnic spot when it’s not too windy.
The trail continues in a north-westerly direction and an easy 20-minute walk across tussock slopes leads to the Pouakai Tarns. A windless day is hard to come by here, but that is what you’ll want to capture the iconic photo of Mt Taranaki reflected in the still waters.
Another 40 minutes along the trail is Henry Peak, the second along the ridge with an obvious trail ascending it. But first, the trail drops to a saddle after Maude Peak before climbing again. The last climb is steep, with five ladders.
t’s worth the effort though as the views from the 1224m summit are superb.
– Mark Danenhaur
- 7.47km to Henry Peak
- Total Ascent
- To Pouakai Hut, 1.5-2hr; To Pouakai, 60min
- Pouakai Hut ($15, 16 bunks)
- Car park at the end of Mangorei Road