Mount Peel

Mount Peel

Mount Peel is a solid full day trip climbing along the Tara Haoa Range right to the highest point. This route consists of 3 peaks. With stunning views over the Canterbury Plains, it’s a hike I would love to revisit in good weather. The hike to Little Mt Peel is reasonably well-known. There were a good number of people walking (and running) the trail as we climbed Little Mt Peel. After we had passed Tristan memorial shelter the crowds really thinned. We were out in the wild on our own. If you are in the are and looking for an overnight hike, there is a good overnight hike on from Peel Forest to Crooked Spur Hut that is well worth the journey.


22.5 km


10 hours


2044 m





Ridge from Middle Mt Peel to Mt Peel with the clouds rolling past
Looking back along the ridge from Middle Mt Peel to Mt Peel as the cloud rolls past

In Detail

Getting there


The drive to Peel Forest takes some time. It is laborious but actually
The network of walks in Peel Forest can be completed within a day. A large portion of the day is taken up with driving. Peel Forest is located south of Ashburton Lakes, approximately an hour and forty minutes drive from Christchurch. The drive is straight and should be taken with care when returning in the evening.

There is a car park at the bottom of the hill where you’ll see an info board and a gate. It is possible to park your car closer to the start of the track, where the trails begin. There would be enough to fit 2 or 3 cars without blocking the track.

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Little Mount Peel

This post covers the Deer Spur track in which we climbed to the summit of Little Mt Peel. There is an alternative track, The South Ridge track which follows the opposite ridge. From word on the track, it is gnarly and rough. We didn’t meet a soul on our adventure that had ascended via the South Ridge Track.

A 5-minute walk will take you to the track intersection, from approaching the leftmost track (North ascending track) Deer Spur track is the one to take. The latter being The Fern Walk.

There was quite a bit of mud lingering around the trees which could be avoided. The track was well-formed in places and easy to follow. It helped that there were plenty of fellow walkers along the track.

Approaching the summit of Little Mt Peel

It took 2 and a half hours for us to reach Tristram Harper shelter which sits just below the summit. The shelter provides a comfortable place to eat lunch and steer clear of the cold. Inside cooked sausages to feed the squad along with any hungry travellers passing by. Definitely the best way to lighten the load for the next part of the journey, the ascent of Mt Peel.

The summit of Little Mt Peel where a large trig stands 1311 metres above sea level, the

Tristan Harper Shelter near the summit of Little Mt Peel

Middle Mount Peel

The trail leads along the ridge towards Mt Peel was not obvious. From the summit of Little Mt Peel no markers, apart from distant Cairns that feature that show a trail. Care should be taken if the cloud does drop. Following the ridge line and referring to the map BY19, you should be able to find your way and navigate towards Middle Mt Peel, from the top of Middle Mt Peel the terrain drops a little following loose rock.

On track to Middle Mt Peel
Finding ourselves some snow near Middle Mt Peel

Mount Peel

The Ascent to Mt Peel is formed with a bit more solid rock in places which is more well-formed, it is a little more exposed however the rock is rough enough that there are many places in which you will be able to find a grip. Even in November there were a few patches of snow near the summit of Mt Peel, care should be taken to ensure that you do not slip and fall on these small ridges.

Following the ridge to approach Mt Peel
Final push to the summit of Mt Peel
Boy on the summit of Mt Peel

We descended the same way as we came, making haste to beat the dark. We descended into the tree line in the later hours of night head torches became essential.

Descending from the summit of My Peel
Descending from the summit of t

The journey took a total of 9 hours excluding the break for lunch. I would recommend Mt Peel for anyone who has a high level of fitness, it is a gruelling day submitting this mountain.

Little Mt Peel is a comfortable day trip that takes in some incredible views. If you don’t have so much experience in the outdoors then I would recommend completing Little Mt Peel is where a lot of the climbing is done if you are considering carrying on too. Although we did not see many if any views I am sure that from the location that the views from this point would be very beautiful.