Adventurous as ever and keen to get up close and personal with our new friend, we spoke with the Department of Conservation (DOC) about climbing to the summit of Mount Taranaki. “Yes, of course you can climb to the summit. It is rather late in the season and we’ve had two snowfalls in the last week. There have been recent deaths here too but I take it you are both experienced Mountaineers with ice-picks and cramp-ons?", replied the DOC rep. Whilst this warning had a little too much sass for my liking, we agreed to heed it in order to stay alive.
This put a bit of a dampener on things as we’d been excited at the prospect of climbing our biggest peak to date, only to be hampered by the weather. Is this Great Britain?
Fortunately there are lots of tramping adventures in Egmont National Park, and we decided to challenge ourselves by taking on the two day Pouakai Circuit. The Pouakai Range stands shoulder to shoulder (though a very small shoulder comparatively) with Taranaki and the circuit offers views of our gigantic friend and surrounding settlements (New Plymouth, Stratford, Egmont Village, Inglewood, Okato etc.), from 1200-1400m above sea level. This 25km trek through sub-alpine terrain would be our biggest challenge so far!
Naturally, we decided to prepare for this walk by doing another very long walk in New Plymouth. The Coastal Walkway runs 12.7km along the sea front at New Plymouth. We had wonderful weather which lifted the spirits and we almost made it to Paritutu rock (a rock named after a parrots tutu, obviously) before going to get some rest. We camped at Lake Rotomanu - a popular and beautiful lake and freedom camping area, before waking up obscenely early to take on Pouakai.