Inspiring ideas for New Zealand vacation planning - The Pouakai Crossing

Since New Zealand re-opened their borders to US visitors, starting May 2022, interest in the destination has returned to pre-Covid numbers. In this series of blogs, we look beyond the iconic favorite destinations, to lesser known places that are often the highlight of a New Zealand vacation.Today, The Pouakai Crossing.

There are hundreds of walking trails in New Zealand. Our blogs are featuring some of the best of them, some well known, others not so much.

Five or so years ago, the Pouakai Crossing was one of the hidden gems of New Zealand, but that changed when 'Lonely Planet' listed the region as one of the 'must visit' places in the country. But apart from being a bit more crowded in the summer, it's remains one of the great New Zealand trails.

A highlight of the day are the reflections of Mount Taranaki in a small lake (called a tarn) on the trail. This is an example of the view that everyone is hoping to capture - 


The Pouakai Tarn.

Cloud cover and wind sometimes can spoil the photo opportunity and for that reason, try and get an extra-early or a late start. If you can arrive at the tarn before sunrise or before sunset you might get lucky and have the tarn to yourself and you might also get less wind at those times of the day.

How to get to the start of the Pouakai Trail.

The trail is found on the west coast of the North Island. This province, called Tarakai, is dominated by Mt Taranaki a volcanic dome that towers 8,000 ft above the surrounding farmlands.


The region of Taranaki.

The biggest town is New Plymouth and it took us about 15-minutes to get from the city to the start of the trail at the end of Mangorei Road.

Things to Know.

It's not an easy hike. In some places it gets steep and in others there are lots of steps to climb.

The total trail of nearly 8-miles will take around 6-hours round trip to complete. 

Check the local weather before you fully commit to setting off for the start point. At some times of the year this region has fast tracking storms sweeping in from the Tasman Sea that can suddenly transform a nice sunny day into a wet and cold one within one or two hours. 

Local radio weather forecasts provides reliable updates about what the day will bring.

And as always, when traveling off the grid in New Zealand, let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.


The broadwalks of the Pouakai Trail.

A sensitive point with the locals (and the park rangers), is the number of visitors who for some reason step off the boardwalks that are in place leading up to and away from the tarn. The area supports an incredibly fragile ecosystem so please don't step off the broadwalk for any reason. 

It would be a mistake to think that the Pouakai Tarn is the only reason for walking this trail and in the following images, we've tried to convey just how dramatic and beautiful the rest of the walk is.


The trail is well sign-posted.


On the slopes.


Incredible views.


At a high point of the trail.


Typical New Zealand forest - and more steps!

If you would like the Pouakai Crossing included in your New Zealand vacation itinerary, discuss your plans with one of the New Zealand experts at New Zealand Vacations.

Lindsay Barron

Lindsay Barron • Apr 28, 2020