The Pouakai Tarn Walk
How to get to The Pouakai Tarn Walk:
From New Plymouth, take State Highway 3 (signs for Inglewood/Wanganui) then turn right onto Mangorei Road (signs for Pukeiti Gardens/Gold Club Westown). 400 meters before the end of the road will be a carpark. Park here and walk to the Pouakai Tarn Walk entry. There are rest rooms in the carpark. I will advise you use them as there are none available along the walk.
The Pouakai Tarn Walk:
From the carpark head right to the end of the road. Here you will find a gravel driveway with DOC signs showing the start of The Pouakai Tarn Walk. Follow the gravel driveway for 5-10 minutes until you hit the boardwalk.
This track is well maintained and is boardwalk the whole way. Don’t be fooled though… it starts off flat but quickly heads into stairs and a lot of them! My Fitbit calculated 270 flights of stairs and 20,000 steps return.
The track winds through a beautiful forest walk with tall green trees and plenty of flora and fauna to admire. You can’t help but snap some photos.
After roughly 1.5 hours you will come across the Pouakai Hut. If you continue past this using the boardwalk for another 10 minutes you will arrive at the saddle and capture your first stunning views of Mount Taranaki.
Carry on through the saddle to your left and continue on the boardwalk. 20 minutes of walking will lead you to the Pouakai Tarn. Please ensure you stay on the boardwalk to protect the surrounding fragile environment.
The Pouakai Tarn is extremely small compared to what the photos on the internet and social media insinuate. However, the tarn is situated perfectly for stunning reflections of Mount Taranaki. The best photography is found on a low wind day to hopefully avoid any ripples in the water. This is more important than viewing it on a blue bird sky day.
We started The Pouakai Tarn Walk at 4am, arriving just in time for sunrise at 6am. We also checked the weather the day prior to ensure we had low wind to capture those perfect non-rippled photos.
Even at 6am there was still a good handful of people at the Tarn aiming for the best photos and admiring the view.
You return to the carpark via the same track. As the boardwalk is all downhill it took us 1.5 hours from the Pouakai Tarn to reach our vehicle.
I would have to say it is worth the early start to capture some breath taking views and photos.
We completed this walk after Climbing Mount Taranaki for sunrise the day prior. So, it was incredible to see the magnitude of what we had climbed and stretch out the legs. We were incredibly blessed to get two days of beautiful weather for our adventures.
I hope you put this on your bucket list and make the effort to explore more of our beautiful country we call home.