Recently my attention was caught by Radio NZ briefly publishing an idea about a “Pouakai Crossing” track in Egmont National Park, supposedly to “rival the Tongariro Crossing” according to the headline. On seeing that headline, my first thoughts were admittedly “why” and “how”?
Mount Taranaki, spectacularly reflected in the famous Pouakai Tarn nearby this fabulous proposed new route.
It’s Taranaki, so it’s usually raining. I don’t mind this, myself. I think that getting out and tramping in the rain helps me to appreciate an environment in ways which many people often don’t see it. Unless it’s Taranaki, in which case getting out and tramping in the sunshine helps me to appreciate an environment in ways which many people often don’t see it. To be fair, I have once completed a slightly modified Pouakai Circuit walk, during which I recorded not a drop of rain at all. I wrote it up to preserve the memento.
There was little in Radio NZ’s actual article consistent with the headline’s claim of “rivaling the Tongariro Crossing”, so maybe it was artistic journalism in that case. Looking further, the Taranaki Daily News had also printed this more detailed article a week earlier. The more I think about it, it doesn’t seem as crazy an idea to me.
It sounds as if it’s mostly a marketing push, to promote the managed track which is already there and improve facilities at the ends, thereby providing something which appeals to tourists. This could result in it being at least as much of a local council thing as a DOC thing, because many of the initial adjustments mightn’t be on DOC-administered land. You can already easily walk one proposed variant of the route on existing managed tracks in the park right now. In fact, one of the main advocates, the Kiwi Outdoors Centre, already promotes a self-guided trip for which they’ll provide a transport service at each end. The Park’s Management Plan is due to be up for revision soon, so the idea will probably get some consideration as part of that process.
The route being described is the most obvious interesting route for a crossing of the Pouakai Range at present. It starts at the North Egmont visitor centre, up the Razorback, around past Holly Hut, across the Ahukawakawa Swamp to Pouakai Hut, and then down a relatively steep track to the end of Mangorei Road. From a tourist perspective it makes most sense to walk it in this direction, if only to avoid a steep grind of a walk up the hill from Mangorei Road to Pouakai Hut.
The idea is that it can be done in a day, which is probably where the comparison with the Tongariro Crossing has been derived.
The problem? Mangorei Road is basically a dead-end farm road. For the insanely fit locals in various Harrier Clubs of Taranaki, it’s feasible to park a car there, run up and around the side of the mountain (in the rain), swapping keys in the middle with a friend who’s running the opposite direction (in the rain), all between morning and afternoon milking sessions (which will also occur in the rain). But Mangorei Road’s current state is less enticing for someone on a one-way trip if it entails waiting for transport out of there, or needing to arrange transport once you arrive. Especially when it’s raining.
It’s usually raining.