The PouńĀkai Crossing is an 18.4km, seven to nine hour day walk. So, the three of us, Janice, Cate and myself got up nice and early to set off at 7am. It was below zero degrees so we were totally geared up.

Starting at the Camphouse, we walked upwards following the signs to the Holly Hut on a frozen and icy track with treacherously slippery steps. The track continued steadily up through montane forest and subalpine scrub. We passed under the huge lava columns of the Dieffenbach Cliffs and crossed the long Boomerang Slip. By this time, we had stripped off several layers before heading steadily down on board walk type steps (still iced over) till we reached the junction of the Ahukawakawa Track. Then it was a long 5 minutes to the Holly Hut where we basked in the sun for morning tea.

Returning to the Ahukawakawa Track, we followed more boardwalk (nice and flat) across the Ahukawakawa Swamp till we reached a curved wooden bridge over the Stony/Hangatahua Stream marking the end of the wetland area.


Then began the steep climb through mountain cedar on more board walk type steps (also still frozen over), with sections still under construction, till we reached the top of the ridge and the junction of the Pouakai Track. We wandered on a little further past the hut junction till we spotted the Pouakai Tarn. We didn’t dilly dally there as we had all been there before and there was a rather chilly wind up there, so we doubled back to the Pouakai hut for a leisurely lunch on the deck. Opposite us, we spotted our other group coming down from the Trig.


Lunch enjoyed, we started on the next section which was a very long never-ending descent to the Mangorei Road end. It meandered down through cool forest which is locally known as an enchanted ‘Goblin forest’ containing lots of twisted kamahi trees. After finally reaching the end of the rather tedious steps (all the way down) we exited the forest but still had a couple of km’s to go on the road before reaching the true end of our day - the carpark where Carl and Kathy had left my car (with its key in a secret hiding place). We had had a long day – expecting 9hrs but we were happy to have done it in less and still smiling.