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Mt Taranaki

Reflective tarn

==the cj way++

The CJ way Guide to Taranaki reflective tarn view


The famous (and for good reason!) reflective shot of Mt Taranaki at the Pouakai Tarn.


Approx. 2 hour walk from parking

Easy (uphill but not particularly difficult and the track is easily defined) 


Best time to visit: when no wind and sun rise/set. 

Hiking shoes


  • Coordinates of the Pouakai Tarn: -39.233824, 174.047226

  • Coordinates of the Mangorei Road Carpark: -39.202529, 174.057198

  • The walk is mostly uphill (approximately 700m of elevation) and about 6km long. It took us approximately 2 hours from the carpark. The track is very well defined with most of it being wooden steps and boardwalks so definitely one you can do in the dark and not have to worry about getting lost! The path is pretty muddy/wet in sections so make sure you wear shoes that will look good with a bit of mud on them!

 best time to visit? 

  • We would highly recommend checking the wind forecast before embarking on this walk. Ideally, you will want to be doing the walk when the wind is the lowest – which is ‘typically’ in the morning. We use Metservice for checking the wind forecast.

  • It’s a beautiful view any time of the day, although we personally think the morning is best as the light is nice and soft, making Mt Taranaki glow (and the wind is usually at it's stillest).

  • In Winter you can expect to see Mt Taranaki dusted with snow (which we think would be pretty blimmin’ amazing!)

 cj travel tips 

  • Typically 100+ people do this walk each day, so we suggest visiting the tarns for either sunrise or sunset as you will a) have nicer light and b) find it much less crowded!

  • At sunrise, the sun hits Mount Taranaki from the left. At sunset, the sun hits Mount Taranaki from the right. Unfortunately, it never lines up perfectly with the sun.

  • If you’re visiting for sunrise, aim to be at the tarn about 30 minutes before the sun actually comes up (and even earlier if there are high clouds forecasted [this would be amazing as they would reflect in the tarn!] – you can use this website here to check the high cloud forecast). The reason we recommend arriving 30 minutes early is because the light is often nicer before the sun has actually risen and additionally this will give you a chance to set up your camera/tripod on the edge of the tarn before it gets too busy. When we did the walk (early April 2019) there were approx. 8-10 people there for sunrise.

 cj photography tips 

  • You will want to set your camera up nice and low by the tarns so you can get that lovely reflection shot.

  • Depending on how much wind there is, a longer shutter speed will help to smooth the water.

  • A polarising filter and tripod is essential or this shot.

 what we found useful to pack 


In addition to the usuals (camera gear, suitable clothing, water and food, first aid etc.) we found the following items useful for the tarns:

  • Shoes that you are happy to get muddy/wet (while the walk is primarily on board walk, it is pretty wet during the early hours)
  • Head torch if planning to be there for sunrise
  • Gloves (your hands will be cooooold), especially while waiting for sunrise!
  • Bright clothing that will stand out in front of Mt Taranaki (if you're planning on being in the photo). 
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