Peel Forest Park

Enjoy ancient native forest, delicate ferns and alpine tussock in this scenic forest park. Stand beneath a waterfall or picnic beside an alpine lake.

This park offers thirteen walks and hiking trails through 500 hectares of virgin native forest that survived the early logging days.

The aptly named Big Tree Walk, 30 minutes, begins at the Te Wanahu picnic shelter and leads into Mills Bush where fine specimens of huge native totara trees, one almost three metres across, are thought to be about 1,000 years old.

Fern Walk, three hours return, follows the forest edge from near Te Wanahu Flat along the southern boundary of the reserve to Blandswood. Many of the 68 species of fern in Peel Forest Park can be seen along this track.From the Clarke Flat area, the Acland Falls Walking Track, one hour return, climbs steeply, levels off a little and then drops to a small stream. The 14-metre high falls are a short walk up the streambed. Native fuchsia, mahoe, kowhai and kanuka are the botanic highlights on this walk.

A more challenging hike, four to six hours return, leaves from the Blandswood lookout and climbs to the summit of Little Mount Peel (1311 metres). The track is steep but well-formed and the views and alpine flora are worth the effort. A small alpine lake at about 900 metres makes a great lunch stop. From here the main ridge leads to the summit. On a clear day, the views extend to Mount Somers, Mount Hutt and across the plains to the coast.

A commercial camping ground at Clarke Flat offers tent and motor home sites. This is the only area where camping is allowed in the reserve.

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