After finishing our big walk we arrived back at the van to find we couldn’t open the sliding door from outside and inside. A trip to a large town gave us the embarrassing news that the kiddie lock was engaged. We needed to get away from modern technology and headed for the Forgotten World – a highway through an area of past glories by pioneering farmers and rugged railway builders. The now unused railway track has over 20 tunnels as it passes underneath the hills that the road winds its way over giving views over the countryside.
After two days we arrived in Stratford at the foot of Taranaki (Mt Egmont) and drove up the mountain side to check out Wilkies Pools, a river scoured by water and pretty Dawson Falls.
We found a very helpful lady at Stratford i-Site and decided to head for North Egmont to walk the three day Pouakai circuit, a loop track that took us across the side of Taranaki and then around on a ridge of encircling hills. The first day took us straight up via a well made stepped path and then we traversed the side of the mountain with lots of boulders to scramble over and one landslip that advised us not to loiter (as if we would!) and not to disturb the stones (impossible!) Then it was down to Holly Hut where we camped outside and enjoyed the company of four other walkers – three on a circuit of the mountain. Two of them had also climbed to the summit that day. A side trip to Bells Falls completed our efforts.
The second day was down across a swamp and then up a ridge dotted with sculptural cedar trees. We decided to do the side trip to Pouakai Trig as our whole day’s walk was only 4.7k. The cloud had closed in and we hoped for a break but it wasn’t to be. The cloud started lifting about 4pm when we were at Pouakai Hut so I took advantage and went on to Pouakai Tarns to get photos with reflections of the mountain. At night we felt on top of the world as New Plymouth on the coast below us lit up.
Our last day was all in wet cloud and I was pleased I had visited the tarns the previous day. We climbed up lots of steps to a high point where the sign described the glorious view we couldn’t see. It was then down, down the mountain hanging on to roots and trees on the eroded track. Crossing one stream on wet rocks made us appreciate that the last river crossing was bridged ( even if it was a swaying swingbridge made out of just wire with views to the fast flowing water way below.) Ray gallantly walked the last 40 minutes up the road to the car while I nobly minded the packs.
New Plymouth gave us a chance to wash and also get the minor fixes done on the car that were supposed to have been completed before it was handed over. We took the day to complete a coastal walk complete with horse riders for local colour and then climb the volcanic rock that overlooks the harbour. It began with wooden steps and ended up a steep rock face while I hung onto the chain for dear life – definitely a step up from Mt Warning! We finished the climb with a celebratory loop the loop by two passing planes. Our caravan park also overlooked the harbour from the other side and provided some nice sunsets.
We headed on around the coast visiting a shipwreck and lighthouse for our last views of Taranaki.
The many faces of Taranaki – a classic mountain.