Stoat Traps Track to Iron Gate Gorge | NZ Hiking

Stoat Traps Track to Iron Gate Gorge | NZ Hiking

Stoat Traps Track is a relatively new track located in the Ruahine Range. As this is a new track, it is not marked on any maps and isn’t maintained by the Department of Conservation. As the name suggests, you follow the track that is used to maintain the stoat traps. Stoats pose a huge problem for New Zealand’s native birds. Our national icon, the Kiwi, is a lazy bugger and doesn’t fly so as a result, gets eaten a lot. Stoats are the main culprit.

Iron gate track entrance down to stoat trap track

Quick Stats

Access Just past Apiti turn right onto Table Flat Road and continue down this road until you reach Petersons Road on the left. Keep going until you reach the carpark on local farmland at the end of the road. Please note that Table Flat Road turns into gravel and is quite narrow and windy at times so take care.

Time 2-3 hours return

Difficulty This track relies on locals to maintain it, the track is easy to follow at the start but as you get deeper into the bush the track often disappears or is covered by fallen trees or tree-roots

Fitness Medium to high

Elevation profile of Stoat Traps Track
Elevation profile of Stoat Traps Track

By the carpark

To Stoat Traps Track Entrance

The hike to Stoat Traps Track entrance is also the hike to many other tracks in this area. Carry on past the entrance to get to Alice Nash Memorial Heritage Hut, Iron Gate Hut and Tunupo (am yet to tackle this one, it is on my To-Hike List though).

Starting at the car park the track leads down farmland until you get to a gate and enter the forest park. The hike continues down the hill. This is unusual for the Ruahines, normally it’s straight up. No mercy.

As it is winter here there has been a fair bit of rain which has resulted in a couple of slips covering the track. If you are an experienced hiker then they won’t worry you. However, if you are taking small children they may be wary due to the sheer drop beside the slips.

There is another slip just before the picturesque wooden arched bridge. The track climbs at a gentle incline until you reach Stoat Traps Track Entrance

Wooden bridge heading to Stoat Trap Track

Dorothy follows the yellow brick road, I follow little pink triangles

This time, instead of following the orange triangles that signal a Department of Conservation track, Stoat Traps Track follows pink triangles. Local trampers have worked to make this track user friendly for hikers.

Normally you are advised to not follow these as they signal various stoat trap or poison tracks throughout the bush for volunteers and DoC workers.

Stoat traps track to iron gate gorge

Stoat Traps Track to the Lookout

The start of this track is relatively easy, meandering along a flat track for a while. Once you pass the large tree (unsure what type of tree it was, just really big), the track gets a little more rugged and technical. Trees lie across the path and the little pink triangles play a game of hide and seek.

A couple of times I found myself wandering straight forward when I needed to take a turn.

Not long after you reach a fork in the track. Either straight down to the river or a right turn up to the lookout. Obviously, I took the lookout.

The Lookout

The lookout is a detour that takes just a few minutes. I stopped here for quite a while taking in the view and playing with the self-timer on my camera. I also took my trusty journal along with me so sat on the edge of the cliff and wrote. Nothing like a wee bit of nature time to clear the head.

Take in the view of the river winding through the gorge down below. Just be aware that the cliff does drop suddenly. There is a sign just in case you weren’t aware from the drop that there is in fact, a cliff there.

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Stoat Traps Track down to the river

After spending a bit of time at the lookout, I headed back to the main track and headed down to the river. It is all pretty much downhill from here. Parts of it precarious.

A carpet of pine needles covers part of a downhill section of the track which makes it fairly slippery. Skiing down is much faster anyway.

There are fabulous views along the way, including horsetail falls and numerous views of the river. Listen out for the locals as well. Fantails provide lovely background music.

Stoat Traps Track down to the river

Oroua River

The Oroua River winds its way through the Ruahine Range, over rocks and boulders and around the curves of imposing mountain range.

The track isn’t so obvious here, be prepared to push your way through flax bush teetering on the edge of the river.

Sitting on the edge of a boulder listening to the water flowing was serene and peaceful. The memory of the downhill was still firmly implanted in my mind. I had to climb back up those shortly.

You can walk down the river to the campsite and meet up with the track that takes you to Alice Nash Memorial Heritage Lodge or even all the way to Iron Gate Hut. I didn’t want to risk it this time of year though. That’s more of a summer excursion.

The river at the bottom of Stoat Traps Track

Heading back again

It didn’t take me too long to hike back to the carpark, just under an hour but I didn’t stop. You could complete the whole hike from the carpark and back again in around 2 hours.

The disappearing pink triangles weren’t too bad on the way back weren’t too bad as I knew roughly where to go this time. Miraculously, the uphills didn’t pose as much of a problem as I thought they would.

Final Thoughts

Stoat Traps Track is a great short hike that is challenging enough to feel like you have still had a good hike. It isn’t a well-used track so chances are, you are going to get it all to yourself (how nice!).

For more photos check out that Hiking Facebook Album, the one with all the Stoat Traps Track photos in it.

What are your favourite short hikes?

Jem

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Stoat Traps Track, located in the Ruahine Range, New Zealand offers a short hike down to the Oroua River that can be extended to Iron Gate Hut and more.

Stoat Traps Track, located in the Ruahine Range, New Zealand offers a short hike down to the Oroua River that can be extended to Iron Gate Hut and more

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