Mt. Taranaki is the primary feature of Egmont National Park (est. 1900). Named Taranaki by the Maori, and Egmont by Captain Cook, the mountain is a perfect cone, at least from a little distance, reminiscent of Mt. Fuji.
We arrived on a drizzly morning, driving out of decently fair conditions down below into the cloud that shrouded the mountain from a few hundred feet below the Visitor's Center. We had toyed with the idea of climbing the mountain, but the dubious weather combined with the 5000' climb (and descent) put us off it. Instead, we chose to hike the Pouakai Circuit, a loop along the base of the peak and through a sub-range on the north side.
Our trailhead was a bit below the VC, and we began by hiking steeply up, so we did start the trip in the rain.
|Some old-growth trees are left in the area, including this one, home to many epiphytes.|
|Still no views of the mountain, but a rainbow raised our hopes.|
|The peak is a perfect cone, but the lower slopes are as deeply eroded as most of the terrain in New Zealand.|
|A clever kindling-splitter, pretty much idiot-proof.|
|Sunrise hits the fresh snow. Less than the day before, but still a dusting to remind us winter was on its way.|
|Every waterfall is different, and worth a look.|
|The split in the hill on the far right is where the stream flows out of the swamp--and over Bells Falls.|
Once across the swamp, we had to climb up the Pouakai ridge. Again, the track was well-engineered, as much to protect the resource as to make our lives easier. We learned that a few years earlier, a group of volunteers had constructed several kilometers of boardwalks and stairs along the ridge, transforming the track from a muddy trench that in places was shoulder-deep, into a pleasant hike.
After an hour or so of climbing, we topped out on the ridge near the hut. With lots of time, we did some extra exploring along the next day's route, to catch our scenery while we could, weather around the mountain being decidedly unstable.
Twenty minutes from the hut brought us to a small tarn, famed for photos with beautiful reflections. Since the wind was howling pretty enthusiastically while we were there, we settled for shots of the mountain with ruffled water.
|The snow by now is nearly gone from the north--sun--side of the mountain.|
Meanwhile, back at the Pouakai Hut, we watched the last light vanish over the Tasman Sea while our dinner cooked.
|Oceanic cloud-banks reflected in the bunk-room window.|
|At a high point on the ridge, a viewing platform offered hints as to what we weren't seeing.|
After the trail took us over the summit of Henry Mountain (no doubt for the views, but the route seemed gratuitously up and down in the drizzle), it dropped precipitously back into the forest and continued down.
|One of the many places we appreciated the effort that had gone into building the track.|
|New Zealand has about a million kinds of fern (I'm exaggerating, but not by much). I love the patterns on all of them.|
|I think this was a one-at-a-time bridge, with a maximum load of one, or maybe two people.|
©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2019As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!