Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest, Canterbury NZ

A 1000m climb through a variety of native vegetation takes you to the summit of Little Mt Peel (1311m) with great views of the Canterbury Plains & surrounding mountains.

Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve

One of Canterbury’s more popular walks, climbing Little Mt Peel takes you 1000m up through a variety of vegetation types, including podocarp and broad leaf rainforest with a variety of ferns, then native bush, and finally into heath and tussock. The views from the summit are very good, including the Canterbury Plains to the east, and various hills and mountains in all other directions.

Track notes at the end. If you are fit and want more, it’s possible continue along a ridge to Middle Mt Peel, and then Mt Peel, but that is a long walk and other bloggers estimate 8-10 hours. One for longer days than mid-winter when we climbed Little Mt Peel.

Little Mt Peel Circuit: The Scenery

Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
This kind of native forest was a novelty for us, as we are used to walking through beech forest. Nice for a change. I think this sort of lowland forest is uncommon, having been cleared for farming over many years.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
Lots of ferns in this area. You start the walk on the so called Fern Walk before heading up Deer Spur.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
The forest began turning into ‘bush’ as we ascended.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
The first of the views, with the Canterbury Plains flanked by Harakeke (New Zealand flax).
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
A look at the summit from about a third of the way up.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
There were clouds to the north all day. One reason we chose this southerly walk.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
South Ridge, our return route.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
The long ridge between Little Mt Peel and Middle Mt Peel, and behind that is Mt Peel. These latter two peaks are reachable on a very long day walk that we will probably try after daylight savings starts.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
View north from the summit of Little Mt Peel.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
View north-west from Little Mt Peel.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
A close up of mountains in the mid distance. I liked the lighting here and the dusting of winter snow.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
Looking west with a bit of zoom.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
Sophia just visible at the bottom.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
I took quite a few pictures of these wrinkly mountains to the south-west.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
Wrinkly mountains to the south-west.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
More shots of those wrinkly mountains! This time with bonus red plants in the foreground.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
A panorama of wrinkly mountains.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
Looking back at the summit from a short photography side trip I took along the ridge.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
The summit of Little Mount Peel (1311m).
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
Nice vegetation as we descended on the South Ridge Track.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
Sophia stopping to admire the views south.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
Looking south-west on our descent.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
I tried to capture the various interesting ridge colours and shapes in this shot. Not bad, although my equipment struggled a bit with the contrasting light of the dark foreground and glary background.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
A nice flower I’ve not seen before. Not sure if it is native.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
A tangled web of branches in this section of bush.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
Back into lush forest.
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
Emily Falls
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
Emily Falls
Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
These reddish coloured trees were deciduous I think.

Track Notes

Little Mt Peel Circuit, Peel Forest Scenic Reserve
A pretty obvious marked track the whole way. Note that the South Ridge Track is steeper and more rugged than the Deer Spur Track, and may not be safe in icy or wet conditions.

A mostly obvious track the whole way. The usual route up and down is via Deer Spur, but we descended via the rather steeper and more rugged South Ridge Track, where there is the added bonus of a visit to the small but attractive Emily Falls. After a warm period of weather mid winter there was virtually no snow on the tops, however even in these conditions there was a bit of ice high up on the South Ridge Track, and it was a slippery in places due to this, and also mud and wet rocks. Not a track for your casual hiker, and although it added variety I think the Deer Spur Track would be a good enough descent for most people. More info on the DOC website.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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