Mining iron ore, gold nuggets, rocks and clay from hitting rocks in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Early on, iron nuggets are both one of the most necessary, and hard-to-come-by, crafting ingredients in Animal Crossing: New Horizons (besides gold nuggets, that is). Not only is it required for many essential upgrades to progress your island - including those (30!) needed to build Nook's Cranny - but it is also one of the more scarce items on your island, with only a few iron nuggets farmable each day from your rocks. So how the Nook are you supposed to get anything done?!

Luckily for you, we've compiled all of the tips and tricks we know so far for farming this essential item - without needing to resort to time travel or cheating.

Mining iron nuggets and gold nuggets in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Here are our top tips for farming iron nuggets in Animal Crossing. Follow these and you'll have more iron ore than you'll know what to do with, plus a good supply of gold nuggets ready to craft Golden Tools.

Getting as many iron nuggets as possible from the rocks on your Animal Crossing: New Horizons island

There are many ways to ensure you're maximising the rocks you already have on your own island - naturally, this is the first place to start. (Be sure to check out our "Rock Trick" guide for more information!)

When hitting your rocks - with either a shovel or an axe - be sure to begin by:

  • Clearing all weeds and other items from around the rock to ensure there's space for all of the items you knock out to fall on the ground
  • Digging holes behind your player prior to hitting the rock, to avoid kickback (which will slow you down, and prevent you from getting as much as you can out of the rock)
  • Ensuring you have *not* eaten any fruit - as this will break your rock before you have a chance to mine ore from it (Too late for that? Check out our useful "Pooping Guide"!)
  • Mashing that A button as fast as you can until you've gotten every last item out of each rock! (eight total)
Clearing space around rocks and digging holes to prevent kickback before hitting rocks for iron ore in Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Image: Austin Voigt

After you've farmed all of your rocks, go ahead and nosh on some of that fruit - because it's time to smash one apart! Just one - only one rock per day will respawn. However, even just one smashed rock will give you a few more pieces of ore, rocks or clay.

Gold nuggets are much rarer than iron nuggets - you'll be lucky if you get one from any of your rocks per day, but keep hitting and you'll eventually get a lovely gold nugget. While it is tempting to sell it for Bells, resist! You'll need them to be able to craft Golden Tools later in the game.

Gathering iron nuggets on the other islands with Mystery Tours

Once you've exhausted all of the ores on your own island, the next best thing is to use some of those hard-earned Nook Miles tickets to visit the other islands with Mystery Tours. Fortunately, if you're willing to hustle for Nook Miles, you'll likely be able to keep yourself in good supply of iron nuggets almost indefinitely - but it'll cost you (2,000 Nook Miles per trip, to be exact).

When you're on the islands, be sure to use all of the same tips we provided above for your own island's rocks, and you can't go wrong - with one key difference: you can smash all of the rocks here!

Look to the skies!

We've also realized on a couple of occasions that iron nuggets can be obtained from floating presents - sometimes up to five in one! Who knew? So go ahead and pop all of those balloons using your Slingshot (the recipe for which is available from the shop)! The longer you hang around outside, the more presents you'll end up seeing.

Visit the islands of other friends and family members

And, when all else fails, consider visiting the islands of others you know. Maybe they'd be willing to trade, maybe they have rocks on parts of their islands that they're unable to access yet on cliffs or across bridges; for those of us with younger siblings and family members who haven't progressed quite as far in the game yet, this has proven to be a quick and easy way to get more items. Just be sure to practise good visitor etiquette when visiting others!

Good luck gathering all of the crafting ingredients you need for island life - and let us know if you think of any other tips in the comments below!

This article is part of our Animal Crossing: New Horizons walkthrough, which includes a Complete Fish List, Complete Bug List and Complete Sea Creatures List. If you're looking for specific fish or bugs, we can tell you how to catch the elusive Coelacanth, Mahi-Mahi, Giant Trevally, Stringfish, Golden Trout and all the Sharks and Beetles, along with a full list of critters leaving at the end of the month (unless you visit Kapp'n's Boat Tour islands, of course!).

We can also help with How to Spot Redd's Fake Paintings and Statues, How to Make Bells Fast, How to Breed Flowers, How to Get more DIY Recipes, How to Upgrade Nook's Cranny, where and when to find special characters like Gulliver, Sable, Label, Wisp, Celeste, Pirate Gulliver and Jack, plus tips on using the Star Wand, Tool Ring, Rock Trick, Cutting Down and Moving Trees, using amiibo on Harv's Island, How to Back Up Your Island Data, How to Time Travel, How to Get a 5-Star Island Rating and a whole lot more.

If it's new content you're looking for help with, we can help you find gyroids, unlock Brewster's café, use the new Pro Camera App for selfies, enact new ordinances, get the beloved Froggy Chair, and even learn How to Cook.

And finally, Where to Buy Animal Crossing: New Horizons on Nintendo Switch, if for some reason you haven't yet picked up the game, and How To Buy The Happy Home Paradise DLC, too!