Big Mt PeelIntermediate - Experienced
Submitted by Tony Sharpe
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Back country - remote
Out and Back
Native bushOpen tussock/grasslandsOpen ridges/topsOther
Intermediate - Experienced
Not Suitable (Novice)
If you've ever done Little Mt Peel you probably have entertained the idea of coming back one day and seeing how much farther it is to bag Big Mt Peel. Well, rest assured it's a lot further than most people think, but on a decent weather day its a great rewarding day on top of the ranges of the Canterbury Foothills, with impressive views pretty much all day. But take water. Lots of water!
Having parked up begin with the well marked and steady climb up the Little Mt Peel track. The first bit takes you up through the vegetation zones from beech to scrub to tussock and on to a lovely ridgeline. As you near the top ridge of Little Mt Peel the route steepens and you'll pick up a few boardwalks/ stairs and eventually the last bit of ridge to the Tristram Harper Memorial Hut and the summit of Little Mt Peel (1311m). Take a breather here and enjoy the views, fuel up and get ready for a long lumpy ridgeline ascent across Middle Mt Peel (1583m) and then eventually Big Mt Peel (1743m).
Leaving the Tristram Harper Memorial hut gain the ridgeline and find your way up the untracked higher ground, over some lumps and bumps and onto the biggish grunt up to Middle Mt Peel. There is the odd waratah and cairn about and sketchy trail, but the going is generally across country. Generally you'll find the 'track' exists best on the more defined parts of ridge, but occasionally there is a temptation to sidle the high points. Take gaiters fro the 'spaniard' plants
The last stretch up Big Mt Peel is easy enough to follow, most choices lead to the top where you'll find a cellphone tower and some rocky outcrops for a well earned summit photo.
From here its simple- turn around and retrace your steps. The odd uphill on the way back can sap flagging leg muscles, this is a pretty long day out but it's a highly rewarding one. There is the choice of an alternate descent from Little Mt Peel South Ridge Track if you wish - slightly more technical than the main track down Deer Spur that you came up on.
As you drive out across the plains you'll forever look at that long long ridge and reflect on a job well done.
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Features of interest
Tristram Harper Memorial Shelter and the long long ridgeline that makes up the Mt Peel Range.
Make Up of Run
Untracked / Route only: 50%
Technical Single Track: 25%
Moderate Single Track: 25%
Peel Forest - before the store turn up Blandswood Road, into the forest and find the signposted trailhead to Little Mt Peel up Lookout Road.
Not aware of public transport, but there's some parking around the trailhead and down at Peel Forest
Be well equipped with map/ compass/ GPS in the event of a weather change. The track beyond Little Mt Peel is route only and could be easily lost in fog.
Waterproof leggings, Thermal leggings, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Windproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Compass, Map, Gaiters.
There is a tank at the hut but it dries up pretty fast in summer. Take as much water as you can, on a hot day you will need lots of the stuff!
Snow in winter will slow you down, best done in the other seasons where you get long daylight hours.
Dehyrdration, routefinding, weather changes are sudden here too. Don't skimp on your gear choices.
Post run indulgence
Panthers Rock in Mayfield, or anything in Geraldine depending on which way you are going.
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