Experience the stunning beauty of New Zealand’s Taranaki region with a hike to Pouakai Tarns along the Mangorei Track.
Nestled in the heart of Egmont National Park, this area is renowned for its majestic Mount Taranaki views, cool hiking trails, and incredible photo opportunities.
The Pouakai Tarns and Mount Taranaki are some of the most stunning parts of New Zealand’s North Island, and you should definitely add them to your itinerary.
In this guide, you’ll learn what to prepare for the hike, information on safety precautions, and everything else about Pouakai Tarns, staying at the Pouakai Hut, and the Mangorei Track itself.
POUAKAI TARNS – OVERVIEW
Pouakai Tarn is a small lake set in the foothills of Mount Taranaki (also known as Egmont Volcano), a 2,518-metre volcanic cone, popular for being a gorgeous photo subject.
The area is in the Egmont National Park, which is part of the Ring of Fire. Despite the name, the last time Mount Taranaki erupted was in 1854, so you shouldn’t be worried about that!
The Mangorei Track is a stunning 5-hour in-and-out track in Egmont National Park and ends at the Pouakai Circuit Reflective Tarn – the famous spot for photos.
There is another hiking trail that takes you to the tarn, called Pouakai Circuit, but this guide is all about getting here through the Mangorei Track.
WHERE IS THE POUAKAI TARN?
The Pouakai Tarn is located in Egmont National Park at the end of the Mangorei Track Trailhead.
It’s situated on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island, and it’s the perfect stop on the Forgotten World Highway.
HOW TO GET TO POUAKAI TARNS?
The nearest town to the Egmont National Park is New Plymouth, which is approximately 18 kilometers away.
To get to the entrance of Egmont National Park, you can drive to the Mangorei Road car park and start hiking from here.
In case you don’t drive your own vehicle, you can get a taxi from New Plymouth to the car park and start the hike.
Alternatively, you can arrange a shuttle from New Plymouth to the Egmont National Park Visitor Centre and do the Pouakai Circuit from here.
As mentioned earlier, you have 2 options to get to the Pouakai Tarn:
- Hiking the Mangorei Track (easiest track)
- Hiking the Pouakai Circuit (hardest track)
I recommend the first option if you have limited time or don’t want to get too tired, and the second option in case you have more time in New Zealand and don’t mind hard trails.
MANGOREI TRACK VS POUAKAI CIRCUIT
I’ll make it clear from the very start; this guide is all about seeing the Pouakai Tarn via the Mangorei Track.
Since I got confused when I first started doing research and you might too, let me tell you the difference between both hiking trails.
The Mangorei Track starts at the Mangorei Road car park, and you can park your vehicle here.
This track is 12.2 km (7.6 miles) long and takes about 4 to 6 hours round-trip to complete with a few breaks.
On the other hand, if you choose to hike the Pouakai Circuit, be prepared for a harder trek, as it’s 22.5km long (14 miles).
You can complete it in 8 to 9 hours, but if you want to take it easy (so to speak) and stop on the way, you can stop at the Holly Hut for the night and resume the day after.
This circuit starts at the North Egmont Visitor Centre, and you can park your car or campervan here or take a shuttle from New Plymouth.
BEST TIME TO VISIT POUAKAI TARNS
The best time to visit Pouakai Tarns is during the summer months, from December through April.
At this time of year, the weather is generally sunny and warm, with relatively low levels of rainfall.
During the winter months, from May to November, temperatures are cooler, and snow may fall in higher elevations of Egmont National Park.
Of course, this can be a magical time to visit, but the track may become icy and slippery, which isn’t convenient.
Photography-wise, the best time of the day to visit the tarn is either sunrise or sunset, which will make the photo even more extraordinary.
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Ideally, you’ll want to stay at Pouakai Hut for the night and see both sunset and sunrise – what an experience!
Unfortunately, when I visited, there was a low-lying cloud blocking the view of Mount Taranaki so I wasn’t able to capture the perfect photo, however, the adventure in itself was 100% worth it!
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WHAT TO PREPARE FOR THE POUAKAI TARNS HIKE
When visiting Pouakai Tarns and Mangorei Track, it is important to bring the right gear for a safe and enjoyable trip.
Be sure to pack plenty of water, a first aid kit, a map, snacks, sunscreen, a head torch, and insect repellent. You can buy all these in New Plymouth.
Additionally, wearing sturdy hiking shoes or boots is important as the terrain can become slippery in wet weather, despite the easy-to-follow boardwalk track.
For longer hikes and if you camp or stay at the Pouakai Hut, I recommend that you bring extra layers of clothing (e.g., a warm hat and gloves) as temperatures can drop quickly at higher altitudes.
Finally, make sure to respect the environment – leave only footprints! Pack out all your rubbish to keep New Zealand’s national parks clean and beautiful.
HIKING THE MANGOREI TRACK TO POUAKAI TARNS
The Mangorei Track is a great way to experience the stunning scenery of Egmont National Park.
The track takes you high into the subalpine zone, offering spectacular views and unique native bush – and you don’t realize how high you got until you reach Pouakai Tarn!
With a moderate grade and no significant climbs, it’s an ideal trek for all fitness levels.
However, you should be prepared for changeable weather conditions and bring necessary supplies if needed.
I’ve been wanting to hike this trail ever since I got to the North Island. In the afternoon, I parked at the Mangorei Road car park and began the hike.
The trail was very easy to follow as it wound its way through native ferns and beech trees, with occasional glimpses of Mount Taranaki standing bold in the distance.
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STAYING AT THE POUAKAI HUT
As mentioned earlier, there’s a hut available for hikers to stay in overnight and it’s near the Pouakai crossing of Mount Taranaki.
The Pouakai Hut is a basic alpine hut with 16 bunk beds, a fireplace, a communal kitchen, and drop toilets.
While there is running water, there’s no drinkable water so you’ll want to stock as much as possible.
You will also have to bring your own sleeping bag and pillow.
Booking the Pouakai Hut is essential, and the cost is $15 per night. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also camp here for the night, and the cost is $5 per person.
Note that there’s only enough space for two small tents, so I only recommend this option if you’re on a budget.
I would have loved to have spent the night at Pouakai Hut, but unfortunately, it was fully booked out.
THE POUAKAI REFLECTIVE TARN
The Pouakai Reflective Tarn viewpoint is just 10 minutes walk from the Pouakai Hut and offers a stunning panoramic view of the Pouakai Ranges and the nearby Mount Taranaki.
The tranquil, mirror-like waters of the tarn reflect the surrounding landscape, creating a surreal and picturesque scene.
The viewpoint provides an excellent opportunity for hikers to take a break and capture some unforgettable photographs.
During the early morning or late evening, the light conditions at the tarn can be particularly enchanting, with the sun casting a warm glow on the mountains.
MANGOREI TRACK & POUAKAI TARN – FAQ
Below you’ll find some answers to the most frequently asked questions by first-time visitors.
WHERE DOES THE MANGOREI TRACK START & END?
The track starts at the car park on Mangorei Road, and you’ll only walk a few steps before starting the hike.
As this is an in-and-out trail (not a loop) the track ends right where it starts, at the end of Mangorei Road.
HOW LONG IS THE MANGOREI TRACK TO POUAKAI TARN?
In total, the track is 12.2km long round-trip and it takes around 4 to 6 hours, taking a few breaks here and there.
HOW HARD IS THE MANGOREI TRACK?
Despite the boardwalk track and the steps, the Mangorei Track can be a pretty challenging trail.
For this reason, I recommend taking enough water and snacks to get plenty of energy along the way.
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HOW MANY STEPS ARE THERE?
There are over 3000 steps on the track, and most of it is made of stairs.
While this is convenient in a way so you don’t get muddy, it can also be an inconvenience as your knees will most likely be sore by the end of the track.
SAFETY TIPS FOR HIKING IN EGMONT NATIONAL PARK
Safety is paramount when hiking in Egmont National Park. Before setting off, you should make sure you have the right equipment and clothing for the alpine environment.
Also, be aware of your surroundings and do not take unnecessary risks while on the track. It is always best to hike with friends and let someone know your plans ahead of time.
Lastly, take a detour with your vehicle and stop at the Egmont National Park Visitor Center before the hike so you know if there are issues on the trail, which will potentially save a ton of time. Alternatively, you can call them at +6467560990.
WHERE TO STAY IN NEW PLYMOUTH
New Plymouth has dozens of hotels to choose from so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay during your visit.
Below you’ll find properties suitable for luxury travelers, budget backpackers, and everyone in between.
LUXURY: Nice Hotel
MID-RANGE: Bella Vista Motel New Plymouth
BUDGET: Ariki Backpackers
FOR MORE OPTIONS IN NEW PLYMOUTH, SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM
CAMPERVAN PARKS IN NEW PLYMOUTH
When searching for campervan parks in New Plymouth, these are the ones I recommend:
- Belt Road Seaside Holiday Park
- New Plymouth Top 10 Holiday Park
- Back Beach Car Park (Freedom Camp Spot)
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FINAL THOUGHTS – POUAKAI TARNS HIKE
Here was everything you needed to know about Pouakai Tarn, Pouakai Hut, Mangorei Track, and other important information for your trip to Egmont National Park.
Surrounded by some of New Zealand’s most breathtaking landscapes, it is the perfect spot for any nature lover.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article, and if you have any questions, please drop me a comment below this post, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
For a quicker response, be sure to join Jonny Melon’s Travel Tribe on Facebook and post your questions or recommendations to our awesome community.
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