Last Updated: 19th Nov 2023

Intermediate - Experienced

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I've done it Done

Big Mt Peel

Geraldine, Canterbury

Submitted by Tony Sharpe

Last Updated: 19th Nov 2023

Intermediate - Experienced

Save Trail Save

I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 74 ?

Gnarl Factor: 89 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Back country - remote

Out and Back


Native bush

Open tussock/grasslands

Open ridges/tops


Run Makeup


Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Untracked / Route only

Average Uphill Gradient: +16.6%

Average Downhill Gradient: -17.1%


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Estimated Times to Run

Not suitable






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.

This trail includes the peaks Little Mount Peel/Huatekerekere and Middle Mt Peel.

Tristram Harper Memorial Shelter and the long long ridgeline that makes up the Mt Peel Range.

Not aware of public transport, but there's some parking around the trailhead and down at Peel Forest

25 km

24 minutes




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.

Panthers Rock in Mayfield, or anything in Geraldine depending on which way you are going.

Trail Legend

Sia Svendsen

Sia Svendsen

has completed Big Mt Peel once in the last year.

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Fastest Known Times (FKTs)

Either route up to Little Mt Peel qualifies but you still need to make it all the way to its Big Brother!

You and Big Mt Peel

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Trail Reviews

I popped up here for the second time on Boxing Day 2022 in cloudy but dry conditions. It’s a solid push up to the tree line circa 800m before softening out, only slightly. Can be a mud fest early on. Once you pass the hut, carry on the ridge and scoot down the drip and keep heading up and you can’t go wrong. Shuffling along the ridgeline from 1500m to the top is the prize. If the clouds give way you get great views from the top. 5/5 would trade again.

Greg O’Brien

July 17, 2023

Loved it! A bit muddy after recent snowfall which left some soft white patches around. Stunning weather. I don't agree with the "not suitable" ranking for slow runners I did it in 7 hours without running a single km.

Massimo Nember

April 1, 2023

Loved it! Started out at 7.30am, made it to Little Mt Peel for brekkie at 9, and then onto Big Mt Peel. The lower track below the bush line can be quite muddy, but it clears higher up, and I'd recommend some kind of leg coverings from Little Mt Peel - Mid Mt Peel as the Dracophyllum can be quite thick & scratchy in places. Route is fairly straight forward, try to keep on the ridgeline where possible. Multiple sheep tracks want to lure you to sidle, but I think easier to stay close-ish to top. Came across a while mob of sheep just below Big Mt Peel, which I thought was slightly odd!! Can be quite cold and windy up top so take warm clothes even on a sunny day. A great day out, would highly recommend!

Laura Richards

April 11, 2022

What an incredible adventure.... I love it how you talk to people and they say yip I am going to the top! Oh you are doing Big too... no no just Little Mt Peel.... that ain't the top my friend! Take plenty of water and make sure you don't sidle around Middle Mt Peel... those fake peaks haha!

Alice Brice

September 20, 2021

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