Mt Taranaki viewed across tarn on Pouakai Range, Egmont National Park

The Pouakai Range, immediately north of Mt Taranaki in Egmont National Park, comprises the eroded remnants of an extinct volcano which was last active approximately 250,000 years ago. Essentially an older version of Mt Taranaki, the Pouakai Range is itself flanked to the north by the even older Kaitake Range, another extinct volcano which was last active around 600,000 years ago. Mt Taranaki is thought to have begun forming about 120,000 years ago and is presently considered to be dormant rather than extinct, having last erupted only about 250 years ago.

This ‘grandstand view’ of Mt Taranaki from the Pouakai Range is easily accessible on the newly opened Pouakai Circuit, a ~25 km well-maintained loop track that takes in some of the Pouakai tops as well as the northern slopes of Taranaki itself. In October 2000 I took a Friday off work and decided to come up here on the basis of a good forecast, hoping to collect a few photographs and to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet at what is one of my favourite places.

After about 2.5 hours of back-breaking labour, lugging heavy camera gear up from the Mangorei Road end, I reached this point beside the tarn and gladly shed my backpack as the warm sun melted away the last of the afternoon cloud buildups. Although I was hurting in places I didn’t even know existed as a result of carrying over 30 kg of gear, at that moment I knew it was well worth it for the scene that was right there in front of me. I figured that by then it was probably afternoon tea time back at work, and I was instantly glad to be sitting here on a mountain top instead, 250 km away from the office.

Blue Lake, Mt Tongariro

Winter sunrise reflection of Mt Taranaki

Mt Taranaki from Pouakai Range

High country tussockland, Lindis Pass

Frozen terminal lake, Tasman Glacier

Mt Ngauruhoe at sunset

Mt Taranaki from Pouakai Range

Star trails over Mt Taranaki

Winter sunrise, MacKenzie Basin

Ben Ohau Range, Canterbury

Cerro Rosado, Argentina

Frozen lake, Mackenzie Basin

Rangipo Desert, central North Island