Mount Taranaki is located in Egmont National Park and the local council have coined the phrase 'Taranaki, like no other'. I can honestly say that it really is like no other. Completely free standing amidst a mass of flat land, it stands out on the horizon from all over New Zealand's mid-west coast.
The hike to Pouakai Hut begins at Mangorei Track Trailhead - a dead end road that ascends from almost sea-level to around 1000m up. With hundreds of stairs to climb, DOC recommends 2.5 hours to reach the hut. I've done the climb four times now. The first time was a long shot. With rain at the base, it was almost guaranteed to rain at the top. And it did. The second time, I'd promised myself a fabulous sunrise and began the ascent under a perfectly clear night sky. By the time I exited the bush at the top, the sun had started to rise and a blizzard emptied from the clouds above. My third visit was also completed in the dark, under a clear starry sky, with all the promise of a spectacular view in the hours ahead. Alas, I was disappointed once more. As the light appeared, the clouds rolled in.
My fourth visit took place in October. I ascended on a Tuesday afternoon in thick cloud and stayed overnight in the hut. By morning, the cloud had cleared and the mighty peak stood proud with its frozen top reaching to the stars. My time had finally come. Racing down to the tarns, the next couple of hours were spent watching the mountain disappear and reappear behind masses of cloud. I could have stayed all day but it was freezing cold and I was far too hungry. I think my favourite view in NZ so far.