Camping at Iron Peg, Hikurangi Range

Image: Jonathan Astin | ©


Walk along the tussock tops of the Hikurangi Range between Purity and McKinnon huts in the Ruahine Forest Park.

Track overview

Walking and tramping

3-4 days Advanced: Tramping track

Seasonal restrictions

May be closed during lambing season (1 September - 31 October). You must get prior permission from the landowner to access the track to Purity Hut. Details below.

Dog access

Dogs with a DOC permit for recreational hunting or management purposes only

About this track


Mangakukeke Road end to Purity Hut

Time: 3-4 hr

Climb the marked Purity Hut Track through farmland and forest to Purity Hut, nestled above the bushline on the Hikurangi Range.

Purity Hut to McKinnon Hut

Time: 4-6 hr

The track follows on up the a tussock ridge from Purity Hut to Wooden Peg (1672 m).

From here turn left along the tops of the range - head northeast to Iron Peg (1703 m) and on past small tarns to Mangaweka Trig (1733 m), the highest point in the Ruahine Forest Park.

Travel is then possible right along the open tussock tops of the Hikurangi Range to McKinnon Hut sitting just above the bushline down a short side ridge at the northern end. Some lovely tarns are passed on the way. Due to travel on the unmarked open tops this section should not be attempted in poor visibility or bad weather. Snow can occur any time of year.

McKinnon Hut to Kawhatau Base

Time: 4-6 hr

Walk back on the McKinnon Hut Track along the crest of the Hikurangi Range from McKinnon Hut and down the long ridge to the cableway across the Kawhatau River. Unless the river is up, it is easy to walk across the river here. 

Kawhatau Base to Rangitane Road bridge

Time: 4-6 hr

From Kawhatau Base (currently closed), go through the gate and down to the Kawhatau River. Head downstream for approximately 9.5 km to the Rangitane Road bridge. Beware this route may not be accessible during times of high river flow.

Hikurangi Range in snow. Photo: Katie Grinsted.
Hikurangi Range in snow

Purity Hut. Photo: Katie Grinsted.
Walkers arriving at Purity Hut

Getting there

You will need to make transport arrangements as the start and end points of this hike are different. You must make prior arrangements to cross private land at the Purity Hut end of the trip.

Purity Road end

Heading just north from Mangaweka turn right off SH1, cross the Rangitikei River and follow Kawhatau Valley Road. This eventually leads to Upper Kawhatau Valley Road and not far past this turn right onto Mangakukeke Road. Follow this to the carpark at the end.

Kawhatau Base

There is currently no accommodation available at Kawhatau Base. There has previously been vehicle access to Kawhatau Base through private land but this access is no longer available. Access is now available via a 9 km walk up the Kawhatau River, starting where the Rangitane Road bridge crosses the Kawhatau River. Beware this route may not be accessible during times of high river flow.

To get to the Rangitane Road bridge, head just north from Mangaweka and turn right off SH1. Cross the Rangitikei River and follow Kawhatau Valley Road. This eventually leads to Upper Kawhatau Valley Road which becomes Rangitane Road. The bridge is just past the turn off to Smiths Road. Please note there is no car park.


To arrange access to Purity Hut Track for day 1 of this trip, phone Richard Gorringe on +64 6 3825856. Please consider going elsewhere during lambing (1 September to 31 October).

Know before you go

Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.


Te Papaioea / Palmerston North Office
Phone:   +64 6 350 9700
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   28 North Street
Palmerston North 4410
Postal Address:   Private Bag 11010
Manawatu Mail Centre
Palmerston North 4442
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