Mount Iron Track | An Easy Sunrise Walk In Wanaka

Sometimes you just want to roll out of bed and catch an incredible sunrise without too much effort. Thankfully, the Mount Iron Track in Wanaka has your back! A stone’s throw from the town centre and requiring no more than 30 minutes to reach the peak, Mt Iron is the ultimate choice for an easy sunrise mission.

From the moment we set foot in Wanaka, we fell in love. The picturesque lake town offers an endless amount of adventure, so much so that we almost disregarded Mt Iron altogether – having too many activities in our itinerary already. 

But one morning, we woke early and wanted to smash out a quick walk before meeting family. Mt Iron was, of course, the perfect choice. And after witnessing what would have been an awesome sunrise if we had gotten up just a little earlier, we realised just how perfect this walk is in the early morning.

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the Mt Iron Track, including which trailhead to start from, the best direction to complete the loop and the best spots to catch the sunrise and sunset.

Hiking along the flat path at the summit of the Mount Iron Track in Wanaka

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What To Know About Walking The Mount Iron Track In Wanaka

Quick Statistics For The Mt Iron Track In Wanaka

4.7 km circuit

1 – 2 hrs

Navigation Difficulty
Very Easy

Trail Difficulty
Very Easy

Physical Effort
Easy – Moderate

Elevation Gain
241 m

Highest Elevation
548 m 

Entrance Fees

Trailhead: car park, toilet

Where Does The Mt Iron Track Start?

Mount Iron Track Trailhead

The main trailhead for the Mt Iron Track can be found on the outskirts of Wanaka’s town centre, on the way to Mt Cook and Lake Tekapo. There is a large car park on the left side of the road, just before the roundabout that leads to the new Three Parks district. 

You’ll find rubbish bins at the Mt Iron Track Car Park and a public toilet a short 2-minute walk along the trail.

There are two other car parks nearby where you can also start the Mt Iron Track – one opposite Puzzling World and another at the end of Allenby Place, called Allenby Park, where the public toilet is located.

How To Get To The Main Mt Iron Track Car Park

Mount Iron Track Car Park

The main Mt Iron Track Car Park is located a short 1.8 km from Wanaka’s lakefront. This is an easy 3-minute drive or a 20 – 30 minute walk along a sealed shared pathway. You can also bike to the Mt Iron Track Car Park, but be aware that there were no designated bike racks when we visited in December 2023.

Click Here For A Location Pin Of The Mt Iron Track Car Park

Alternative Starting Point For The Mt Iron Track

In addition to the three car parks listed above, you can also access the Mt Iron Track from Hidden Hills, a northeastern suburb of Wanaka, or via the shared bike track connecting Albert Town and Wanaka.

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Beginning The Mount Iron Track From Hidden Hills

If you’re staying in Hidden Hills, a suburb off Aubrey Rd in the northeast of town, you can access the circuit track by starting on the Aubrey Road Link Track instead of driving to the trailhead on the other side of Mt Iron.

There is no dedicated car park at the Aubrey Road Link Track, but you’ll find a gravel pull-out at the end of Hidden Hills Rd – just off Weatherall Cl. Additionally, you can access the trailhead via Highfield Ridge where you’ll find a path connecting to Weatherall Cl.

Other than a faded white sign with an arrow pointing to the unnamed road heading south off Weatherall Cl, there are no signs to help you access the Mt Iron Track. We recommend asking your accommodation host for details or using Alltrails to ensure you stick to the correct route.

Is The Mt Iron Track Worth It?

Hiking on the Mount Iron Track in Wanaka

It’s important to understand one thing about the Mt Iron Track – it is by no means an incredible must-do hike in Wanaka. It is simply a great spot to watch the sunrise or sunset or to get a little exercise in.

The Mt Iron Track is a popular running or walking trail for locals, allowing you to get off the streets and into the bush. As long as you keep this in mind and choose to walk the Mt Iron Track for one of these reasons, you won’t be disappointed.

With that said, due to its easy nature and prime location, you can expect to share the trail with many other walkers throughout the day – even at sunrise.

Is The Mount Iron Track Hard?

While the Mount Iron Track is very easy in terms of trail difficulty and navigation, there is a good dose of elevation gain that could surprise some. However, as long as you have a moderate level of fitness, then you’ll have no trouble completing the Mount Iron Track.

When Is The Best Time To Walk The Mt Iron Track?

Lake Wanaka and mountains of Mt Aspiring National Park from the summit of Mt Iron Wanaka

Due to its relatively low elevation compared to the monstrous mountains surrounding Wanaka, the Mount Iron Track is accessible year-round with very little chance of finding snow dusting the mountain.

But if we had to choose the best time to walk the Mt Iron Track, we would have to say winter or early spring. During this time, you’ll be gifted with the magical scene of snow-capped mountains dominating the horizon.

Furthermore, we highly recommend summiting Mt Iron for either sunrise or sunset. The 360-degree views you receive from the peak allow for a brilliant show at both times of the day, considerably increasing the appeal of the Mt Iron Track.

Where Are The Best Sunrise & Sunset Spots On The Mount Iron Track?

Standing on the summit of Mt Iron looking over Lake Wanaka
Mt Iron Summit

While you can’t go wrong with viewing the sunrise or sunset from the top of Mt Iron, there are a few other spots that are worth mentioning – especially if you have a specific backdrop in mind.

  • The seat at the 1 km mark – This spot offers the best view of the town, Lake Wanaka and the distant Southern Alps. While it’s ideal for sunset, it’s also a good choice for sunrise as you have a chance of witnessing the snowy peaks light up. Plus, if you’re running out of time then this is only a 10 – 15 minute walk from the trailhead.
  • The seat at the 1.7 km mark – If you want to photograph the northern mountains, this is the ideal location and you’ll gain some really beautiful lighting at both sunrise and sunset – but mostly sunset due to the detail in the western side of the mountain range.
  • The top of Mt Iron – This is the best spot for a full 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains and Lake Wanaka. A telephoto lens would be very useful here to capture individual mountains in the distance.

Which Direction Should I Walk The Mt Iron Track?

The Mt Iron Track is a circuit that can be walked in either direction. We walked in a clockwise direction – which you’re naturally pulled towards doing. While this is best for sunrise as it’s the shortest route to the summit, if you want the best views while walking then we suggest walking anti-clockwise.

Mount Iron Track Notes

Mount Iron Track Car Park To The Lookout

Mt Iron Track pathway

To begin the circuit, pass through the fence and start walking clockwise on the wide gravel path. After a moment, you’ll pass through an open gate that leads you to the other trailhead at Allenby Park where you’ll find public toilets. 

Passing by the car park, you’ll continue walking on the left side of the fence, with a gentle incline that allows you to gain beautiful views of the town unravelling on your left.

After 700 m, the long winding switchbacks begin, assisting with the increasing gradient. The vistas of the town and Lake Wanaka continue to unfold as you climb higher, with a seat at the 1 km mark offering the perfect vantage point to enjoy the panoramic views.

Hiking up the switchbacks on Mount Iron, Wanaka

The Lookout To The Summit Of Mt Iron, Wanaka

Leaving the lookout behind, you’ll continue winding up the wide path towards Mt Iron’s summit. There are a few little tracks branching off the main trail, but it’s easy to determine the right path.

As you near the top of the hill, shaley rocks begin to cover small sections of the trail. These are easy to navigate and require very little attention.

HIking towards the summit of Mt Iron

The landscape opens up once more at the 1.7 km mark, where you’ll find another seat overlooking Lake Wanaka and offering tiny glimpses of Lake Hawea.

Hiking along the summit track on Mount Iron

You’ll continue on for another 300 m, crossing over a stile, until finally arriving at the peak of Mt Iron. From the lone bare hill, you’re afforded unobstructed 360-degree views of the entire Wanaka region.

Exploring Mt Iron’s Summit

Standing on the Summit of Mt Iron looking over Wanaka and Mt Aspiring National Park

To the west, you’re gifted sensational views of Roy’s Peak and the tiny Rocky Mountain Summit dwarfed by the Southern Alps. The north offers vistas of The Peninsula and the beautiful Lake Wanaka. While farmlands sprawl out across the east and south, covering the deep valley to the foothills of the Pisa Range and Dunstan Mountains.

Lake Wanaka from the Summit of Mount Iron

Several information signs offer insight into the history of the landscape and a map of the mountains. We enjoyed attempting to name the mountains we’ve climbed and the ones we want to someday!

The Summit To The Trailhead

Once you’re ready to leave, continue north to complete the Mt Iron Track. If you want to take the fastest route back to the trailhead, you can return the way you came.

Descending the loop trail on Mt Iron
Hiking down through the rocks on Mt Iron Track

Setting off on the northern path, you’ll begin descending the eastern slopes of Mt Iron, with shaley rock scattered across the trail. The path weaves in and out of small pockets of paperbark trees, offering a nice shady respite from the sun. When the trees disperse, you’re afforded beautiful views of the Clutha River snaking through the valley below.

Hiking down the Mt Iron Track surrounded by trees and rock

At the 3 km mark, you’ll arrive at a track junction. This is where the Aubrey Road Link Track connects to the Mount Iron Track. Continue east, following the track as it winds down the mountainside, with stairs and switchbacks assisting in the steepest sections.

Trail junction on the Mount Iron Track

After a further 600 m, you’ll find yourself at the base of Mt Iron once again. Two trails branch off from this point, the left track takes you to Albert Town and the right track leads you back to the trailhead. 

Follow the right track as it winds southwest around the base of Mt Iron. You’ll enjoy an easy flat walk for the final 1.2 km, emerging beside the road and merging onto the bike path just before arriving back at the Mt Iron Track Car Park.

Flat path near Wanaka on the Mt Iron Track
Walking on the footpath next to the main road in Wanaka

It took us a total of 1-hour moving time and 1 hour 20 minutes total time to complete the 4.9 km loop of Mt Iron. You can easily get to the summit within 30 minutes, but if you’re visiting for sunrise then we suggest allowing 45 minutes to reach the peak so you don’t miss the show.

Other Information For Completing The Mount Iron Track

Leave No Trace

Wanaka, and the greater Otago region, is one of the best places we’ve travelled to in terms of waste management and recycling. Let’s continue to help them do an incredible job by keeping the trails on Mt Iron clear of rubbish – this includes food scraps and tissues!

You’ll find a rubbish bin at the Mt Iron Track Car Park and recycling bins across the road at the BP petrol station.

Where To Stay Near Mt Iron

Mt Iron lies on the outskirts of Wanaka, an epic adventure hub that is chock full of things to do and accommodation options for all travellers.

Below we’ve listed our top recommendations for a variety of budgets.

  • The Hidden Spring – We stayed at The Hidden Spring on our first visit to Wanaka and loved it. The budget-friendly studio overlooks the northern mountain range and is located near the Aubrey Road Link Track for Mt Iron.
  • Kauri House Apartment – A beautiful mid-range accommodation option with breakfast included, a small kitchenette and a stunning view over Lake Wanaka.
  • Wanaka Luxury Apartments – A centrally located mid-range accommodation offering one or two-bedroom self-contained apartments with hotel amenities such as a pool and spa.

Camping Near Mt Iron

Campervan parked at Red Bridge Campsite near Wanaka

The best way to explore New Zealand – in our opinion – is to travel in a campervan. There are loads of free or cheap campsites throughout the country – some offering 5-star views! The best place to camp near Mt Iron is Albert Town Campground, a short 5-minute drive from Mt Iron that charges $10 per person, per night.

If you’re travelling in a self-contained campervan, you’ll find a freedom campsite at Red Bridge, 15 minutes east of the Mt Iron Track Car Park.

Check out our guide to finding the best campsites in Wanaka for more information and suggestions.

Final Thoughts

While we won’t go so far as to rave about Mt Iron, we will admit that it is a great walk for a quick and easy sunrise mission. You barely need to leave town and you’re afforded beautiful views across the entire valley.

However, if you’re searching for incredible walks in Wanaka, then you’ll find plenty of better options a little further from town. Our favourite day walks are the Diamond Lake & Rocky Mountain Summit Track, Rob Roy Glacier Track and Aspiring Hut.

We hope that this guide has helped you plan your sunrise or sunset mission to Mt Iron. If you have any further questions please feel free to leave a comment below or reach out to us via Instagram,

Happy Hiking 🙂