[Taranaki] Golden Pouakai Circuit

(Please be warned that this post is going to contain lots and lots and lots of portraits of Taranaki ..., just because it is so irresistible and in my eyes, ever-changing from every perspective! Enjoy!)

It is such an amazing and gratifying feeling being so close to the Taranaki. Although we didn't do the summit track (which I'm still feeling really envious of towards the people who did it), the Pouakai Circuit was still one of the best things I've done since I've been in this country.

On this trip, I realized how satisfying and rewarding it is to be doing a Circuit, because everywhere we go, we could see almost everything that we will be passing. And from where we went, we could see almost everything that we had already passed. 

We started out from North Egmont Visitor Center. We were blessed with beautiful weather on both days. Except that we really did wait out the rain for a few days in New Plymouth before finally heading up the mountain.

The sun was shining bright, sprinkling the bushes with sunshine every here and there. And every now and then we would be granted a glimpse of Taranaki in the distance. All the way we could see the path streaked ahead before us, gently cut across the mountain side ever so freely, like dragging a stick randomly on a beach.

[The path]

As we tramped along, we were able to see the many sides of Taranaki. It was as if Taranaki was calling out to the ranges around it, Henry and Maude, conspiring together to bring to us the best experience they could give us.

[The entire Circuit, skirting almost all the peaks seen before us]

As we got closer to Taranaki, we could see that he had two peaks instead of one, and had a significant patch of lava flow on its right. The peaks curved up towards each other like a soldier with his horned helmet, and the lava flow like its shield. 

But then most of the times, I preferred that it looked like a spoiled cat with a turtle clinging on to its back. :P

The Holly Hut was nested under the slopes of the mountain, with a spectacular background in where it stands. When we arrived, we were told that the next hut was too full of people, and so we decided to stay.

It was quite the United Nations there that night, with trampers from the Czech Republic, Belgium, Israel, Germany, Canada, and the local "Old Dogs". It was warm in the hut with the fire burning. It was like a mini-hostel, everyone huddled together in animated conversations, sharing each others' experiences about tramping around the country, and this and that.

Before it got dark, we embarked on the mini-trip into the goblin forests to the roaring Bells Falls, just about 40 minutes away. Cascading off cliffs as mighty as the ones we passed earlier on that day, it felt refreshing just to sit by the water (but not to soak my feet in, it was still too cold!) and reflecting back upon the wonderful day we just spent.

The next morning, we traversed across the Ahukawakawa Swamp towards the opposite peaks to complete the loop. The swamp reminded me of hiking in Ocala National Park, Florida.

If you've ever seen the Lion King, I'm sure its opening song will be forever engraved in your mind. The calling across the wilderness with the sun rising high, all the animals answering to the call, and ultimately Simba raised above the prairie rock where all the animals bowed to him. That openness, boldness and power of nature was exactly what we were feeling throughout the journey.
"There's more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done ... More to find than can ever be found." 

This was probably my favorite part of the entire walk. From afar we could see the swamp seeming brown, dull, bare and barren in the distance. Yet walking through it was just entirely something else.

Instead, the land was glowing with golden tussock everywhere. We walked along, caressing our fingers along the soft feather-like leaves, feeling like the Gladiator coming home. Or like being back in the fields in Taiwan during harvest season, it would have been autumn, the season of warmness and gratitude.

Our ascend up towards Maude's Peak and Henry's Peak was rewarded with superb panoramic views of everything around us. We passed amazing elevated swamplands and tarns (lakes). Mt Taranaki standing beautiful and breathtaking as always, whenever we see it, we are always amazed. And I've almost gotten so used to it being around me, like a friend walking along with us, encouraging and listening all the way.

Honestly, I'd thought that disappearing into such wilderness, we'd be coming out a changed person. But in reality, it is as Alain de Botton said, that we forget that we are always bringing ourselves wherever we go. 

Most of the time, even with such beauty before me, I found my mind wandering randomly, thinking of the most minute and insignificant things, the stupidest and irrelevant things. Sometimes we were playing music that did not even match this landscape.

But mostly, I think it is because I am always just too lost for words, too dumbfounded by what is in front of me, that I don't know what to do other than click my shutter and think "I'm so glad I'm here." As well as gratitude for such authenticity in nature.
"The stuff that we are concerned about just doesn't matter out 'here' ... Life becomes very simple, it's about moving in a certain direction ... That's it." - Ben Saunders

No comments:

Post a Comment