Showing posts with label Peel Forest. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Peel Forest. Show all posts

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Peel Forest Park Scenic Reserve II: Fern Walk : 24th January

More adventures in  Peel Forest...

Continuing on from my last post, the other walk in the Peel Forest area we did was the Fern Walk. There was a world of difference between the two tracks: Dennistoun Walk is in an area where logging has previously taken place, whereas the Fern Walk has never been logged. The bush along the Fern Walk was much denser as well as containing many more examples of mature native trees.

My daughter Juliet on the Fern Walk, Peel Forest Reserve

Fern Walk, Peel Forest Reserve:

The primary tree type on the Fern Walk is the Totora, although you still find magnificent examples of Fuchsia, Kahakitea and Matai as well. What is also in residence is a thick ground cover of ferns, they are really prolific along the sides of the track. Makes sense given the name of the track...

Tracks in the Peel Forest Reserve

The Fern Walk can be accessed off the main Mt Peel Road, it is about 2 kilometres past Mt Peel township. It takes 1-1.5 hours to walk all of the track, the terminus is at Lookout Road which joins the far end of Blandswood Road. We walked along the first 45 minutes worth and then returned to the start. 

As is the case with fathers everywhere I take every opportunity to embarrass the girls when we are out in public. Hence the awesome pose!

Yes, I am an embarrassment to the kids!
The bush is really dense alongside the Fern Walk, the forest was more diverse and much thicker.

The advantage of never being logged?

I read somewhere that the area was used for jungle training back in WW2 and the Malaysian Insurgency. I can see why, it is as thick as any jungle I have seen in the Islands. It is obviously popular as we saw 5-6 other people as we travelled along. 

Juliet about 100 meters along the track, Fern Walk
As is the way with teenagers, Georgia was super happy to go for a walk. Thankfully (and as expected) she enjoyed herself and was much happier by the end. 

Ah...feel the teenage love!
Awesomely happy Georgia and dense bush Fern Walk, Peel Forest
There are some large Totara and Kahakitea trees in the area the largest would be a good 6-8 meters around, 500-700 years old. There are some very large Fuchsia trees along the track, some of these would be 2-3 meters around the trunk which is BIG for this type of tree. 

Dense ferns and undergrowth, Fern Walk

Juliet with one of the large tree ferns, Fern Walk

Ferns and young Matai saplings alongside track

Heading up the Fern Walk, about 30 minutes along
The Fuchsia below was big: this is one of the examples with a 2-3 meter round trunk. 

Large Fuchsia tree, Fern Walk

Nice wide track, Fern Walk
I was trying to explain to the kids how easy it is to get lost even on a good track like this (bush lessons # 365 in-situ...) but they were unconvinced.  So I walked about 15 meters into the bush, it was so thick I couldn't see the track at all and I was completely invisible to them.

Vine community on a young Kahakitea tree, Peel Forest

The Big 3: Kahakitea, Fuchsia and Matai on the Fern Walk

Fern Walk, Peel Forest: track side fern

One of the set of steps on the Fern Walk
For the most part the track is flat or on a slight incline. There are a couple of places where you need to climbs some stairways to cross intervening Spurs, especially towards the Blandswood Road end of the track. If you wanted a nice easy walk, just do the first 20-30 minutes as there is only one stairway along this stretch.

At the top of the first stairway, Fern Walk

Descending one of the stairways, Fern Walk

Juliet and I descending some steps on the Fern Walk, Peel Forest
The girls utilised the thick lichen growing on the trees along the track for some quick cosmetic changes to their appearance...

Fern Walk, Peel Forest: Georgia channelling a 70's outlaw biker!

Nice eyebrows Juliet, Fern Walk, Peel Forest

This is a very nice track, it is in excellent condition and beautiful with the mature trees and dense under-story. The track is well signposted on Peel Forest Road and Blandswood Road.

It would have been a wonderful sight to see this area before milling. The forest reached all the way from Peel Forest to Coopers Creek about 12 km's away to the south. The current reserve is about 900 hectares so you are talking 20-30 thousand hectares at least. 

Red outlines historic extent of Peel Forest prior to mid 19th Century timber milling

Great wee track this one, once again highly recommended go have a look if you ever find yourself in Peel Forest.

Access: Fern Walk is clearly signposted on the Peel Forest Road. Go through Peel Forest township, the track is approximately 2.5 km's past the township on the left.
Track Details: Fern Walk is a through track to Blandswood Road. The whole track takes 1.5 hours one way.
Miscellaneous: All weather track, some stairs to negotiate in several places.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Peel Forest: 15th March 2015: Acland Falls Track and "Big Tree" Walks

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)

Acland Falls

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.

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.

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

Peace y'all!
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.

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!