Some day walks in Peel Forest
The family and I went down to Geraldine recently for a weekend get away, while there I took the opportunity to go for a walk at Peel Forest Scenic Reserve. I walked to Acland Falls, and then around to Te Wanahu Flat and back to the car, about 1.5hrs total. Later that same day the whole family walked to the "Big Tree" which is an enormous 1000 year old Totora tree in the forest. Awesome!
Acland Falls Walk, Peel Forest (1.5 hrs)
I went for a short hour long walk into Acland Falls and then followed the connecting track over the intervening ridge to Te Wanahu Flat. The track is off a very high standard although a bit muddy on the day as it had been raining the evening before. Peel Forest is full of interesting tracks from 15 minutes right up to 8 hour return tramps to Little Mount Peel 1790 meters.
|Map of the Peel Forest track network|
|DOC Peel Forest track sign at road side|
The track to the Falls is all up and down, luckily it only takes 30 minutes to get there so no major drama's really. It was quite muddy due to overnight rain as well, I imagine it is a bit of a mud slog in the Winter.
|Closer view of some of the tracks at Mt Peel Scenic Reserve|
|Acland Falls Track: Start of climb over ridge|
The Acland Falls are small, only 14 meters and not all that impressive in dry weather but I bet they are fairly spectacular if you visited during Winter. There is a very deep pool at the base of them and that requires a god amount of water.
|Acland Falls (14 meters)|
|Jon at the Acland Falls|
Good idea of the damp, dark nature of the area around the falls, with luxuriant fern growth on all of the gorge walls.
|Track into Acland Falls|
|Jon at Acland Falls|
The track into the falls was a bit muddy due to overnight rain.
|Acland Falls Track: Start of the muddy climb to Te Wanahu Flat|
|Video of Bellbirds singing|
|Acland Falls Track: track junction, Peel Forest|
|Acland Falls Track: Close-up of track sign|
|The track to Te Wanahu Flat|
|Mature Rimu Tree on Te Wanahu Flat Track|
|Te Wanahu Flat Track: Rimu tree next to track|
|Track sign on Te Wanahu Track|
|That undergrowth is a bit thick on the Te Wanahu Flat Track|
|Semi mature Maitai tree next to Te Wanahu Flat Track|
|Te Wanahu Flat Track: close up of trunk of Rimu tree|
|Te Wanahu Flats ablution block|
While I was walking Kathryn and the girls went for a horse trek down into the Rangitata River Valley. Here are a few photos of the horses and ladies when they arrived back at the horse trekking place. I sounded like it was a lot of fun.
The company name is Peel Forest Horse Trekking.
The company name is Peel Forest Horse Trekking.
|Georgia on her mount, Kathryn in background|
|Georgia and horsey companion|
|Juliet in horsely attire|
|Juliet and her mount|
|Juliet and friend|
Big Tree Walk, Peel Forest (30 minutes return)
After I picked Kathryn and the kids up we went back down to Peel Forest and went for a walk into the "Big Tree" which is a 1000 year old Totora tree about 15 minutes into the forest. Peel Forest was logged in colonial times but there are still a few examples left of the enormous native trees which grew in the area.
|Te Wanahu Flats, Peel Forest|
One end of the loop track to the Big Tree starts to the right of the DOC shelter at Te Wanahu Flat, there are toilets and a picnic table here but no water point. Surprisingly, there were no sand flies here, nor anywhere in the area. Its possible the colder weather has forced them into hibernation.
|Georgia making like a Zombie.......|
There are some awesome examples of Totora and Rimu along the track, the undergrowth is very thick, so you really want to stay on the track.
|Peel Forest: at one of the big Totora trees|
How can you not stop and give a 700 year old tree a hug, it deserves it after standing for so long.
|Juliet at another large Totora tree in Peel Forest|
|Tree huggers all...|
|Barely reaching around big Totora in Peel Forest|
There are some nice interpretive panels along the track which give some information about the flora and history of the area. They point out good examples of the Totora and other natives along the track.
|DOC sign at 800 year old Totora tree, Peel Forest|
|Jon at said big Totora tree, Peel Forest|
|Peel Forest: crown of a Totora next to track|
There is a nice seat next to the Big Tree where you can sit and contemplate your surroundings, I recommend you take the time to do so, it was a very peaceful spot.
|Jon, Kathryn and Georgia at Big Tree in Peel Forest|
|Peel Forest: looking up along the Big Tree|
There were a couple of branches lying on the ground near the tree, obviously broke off due to the weight which were at least a full meter around! I'm sure there would be enough timber in this one tree for a moderately large sized house.
|Closer look at the crown of a big Totora in Peel Forest|
As you can see the so named Big Tree is absolutely enormous, it looks to be about 6 meters around and was at least 50 meters tall. There would be a lot of wood in one of these, the reason they were logged in days past.
|Juliet for scale under the Big Tree|
|Thick bush covered ridge, Peel Forest|
|Peel Forest: a big Rimu tree poking out of the forest|
The large native Rimu tree sticking out of the canopy is one I passed on the track between Acland Falls and the Flats earlier in the day.
A couple of nice short walks.
Peel Forest is but a small remnant of a much larger forest cleared in the 1800's for pasture. The disturbing thing is that the wood wasn't even used, most of the forest was simply burnt down by the early settlers of the area. This part was only saved because an English tourist to the area was so appalled by the destruction that he brought it and gifted it to the nation.
What a waste!