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Author And Researcher
I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.
I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!
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A bite-size Wanaka walk, but with grand views. And within walking distance of town.
1.5 km from Wanaka town on SH6, Mount Iron Track is signposted by a parking area on the left.
Heading clockwise around the mount, there is a steady climb through kanuka scrub, with panoramas up the lake to the mountains of Mount Aspiring National Park.
At the summit is a plaque with the names of the main peaks and features, including Cardrona Valley, Pisa Range and Lake Hawea.
Return via the same track or continue on the loop. The descent via Albert Town is steeper and less scenic.
The entire area around Mount Aspiring National Park and Lake Wanaka underwent glaciation over several periods during the last 2 million years. Each successive penetration by the glacial advances obliterated what had gone before.
During the last Pleistocene, with it’s maximum around 17,000 year ago, glaciers descended the Matukituki Valley and met with others at Lake Wanaka, excavating deep valleys. Advances carved the inclined beds of the schist rock.
One notable feature is known as a roche moutonee - or rock sheep. An outcrop of resistant rock has the effect of slowing a glacier in its tracks, arresting its flow and diminishing its erosive powers. An attenuated slope results. Conversely on the downstream side, an acceleration increases its erosive power, giving a steeper slope. Observed from a side view, the shape resembles a sheep - at least it did to French geologists who first described these features.
The first Maori tribes said to have visited the region were Waitaha. They were later usurped by Ngati Mamoe and later Ngai Tahu.
Waitaha stories are contentious and there are many differing accounts of their origin. Te Rakaihautu was said to have landed the Uruao canoe in Tasman Bay around 850 AD and been responsible for the formation of many land features on Te Wai Pounamu (the South Island). He was like a demi-god.
Over 20 generations later, the descendant O Roko te Whatu lived near Wanaka, at the Neck between Lakes Hawea and Wanaka.
Around 1700, the Waitaha chief Potiki-Tautahi was murdered at Lake Wanaka by his nephew Te Weka.
Later, Katimamoe (K often replaces Ng in the southern dialect) migrated south from homelands in the Hawkes Bay. Some settlements are recorded around Lakes Hawea and Wanaka in early accounts. These were probably seasonal. By 1780 all Waitaha and Katimamoe pure breds had disappeared.
Maori likely used the lakes as mahinga kai - places to gather food like eels and fish, weka and ducks, ti kouka and aruhe (fern root). The area was strategic too, with crossing points nearby like the Motutapu Valley, Matukituki, Cardrona Valley and Tiori-patea (Haast Pass), which accessed valuable deposits of pounamu (greenstone). These greenstone trails were well documented in story and song. Sacred knowledge of techniques to keep travellers alive in these harsh parts were transmitted orally and with reverence.
In 1836, raids by Ngati Tama chief, Te Puoho, scattered many Ngai Tahu groupings. Affiliated to the notorious chief Te Rauparaha, his war parties migrated south, crossing Haast Pass and killing two young girls at Makarora. They feasted on their flesh and took Pukuharuru, son of Te Puoho, as captive. Battles ensured, freeing the kidnapped son, and the family fled to the west. Or maybe the east. Details are unverifiable.
By the time Europeans arrived, there were no Maori left in the region.
This walk, close to town, shows off the recent boom in Wanaka’s house building. Many of those shiny roofs and manicured suburbs have sprung up in the last few decades, as the world has discovered that Wanaka is a really nice place to live. Pretty views, clean and with heaps of summer and winter activities. The problem is that many of those homeowners don’t actually live here. Over 50% of Wanaka’s houses are absentee owners, either investment properties, Air BnB or long-term rentals. Great for property prices. Not so great if you are a local worker on average wages who would like to stay and contribute to the spirit of the local community.
South Island ▷ Wanaka Region ▷ Wanaka Township
Showing 13 reviews of 32.
Scenic view, nice loop walk.
Very nice view, dogs have been on the track..... good access.
Good view. Well maintained path - quite steep in places.
Great views! Good track.
Nice walk, not too hard and the views from the top are rewarding. Good for a family walk, it took us 1.5 hours.
Nice easy hike to get a spectacular view of Wanaka and Lake Hawea. The path is good and plenty of friendly locals doing it daily to say hello to.
Stunning views up the hill and from the top but a bit boring down the other side again. Nice walk though.
A steep climb in the rain was not much joy but the views from the top were worth it. Coming down through the bush was a nice end.
1 hour 30 minute walk takes you to the top of Mt Iron and back with magnificent views of Wanaka, well worth the walk, easy track with a couple of short, steep parts.
Beautiful and a very easy walk.
Short walk - great views of all of the surroundings.
It is an easy walk, you can see the Lake Wanaka and the Lake Hawea from the top. Beautiful view.
The lookout for Mt Iron is so great. Then, the landscape from the main has created nice memories for us.
Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍