Dairy Farms in the Moonlight (Part One) – Middle Mt Peel(1583m)

“A Mish a Day” #87 Middle Mt Peel(1583m) – Part One. Peel Forest Park Scenic Reserve. 30.5.2011. My most vivid childhood memories of being in the mountains come from family outings to Peel Forest. The tiny mountain village doesn’t receive as much attention as it should, but I’m sure that’s why the locals love it there. Sitting on the western edge of the Canterbury Plains, rolling hills quickly become mountains, and directly behind the village is the pyramid of Hautekerekere / Little Mt Peel(1311m)…

To have a small hut perched so close to the summit of Hautekerekere / Little Mt Peel(1311m) is a remarkable achievement, and a sunrise over the Canterbury Plains from this small shelter is breathtaking and well worth the effort. Before the area was hit with winter snow in 2011, I headed to the little settlement of Peel Forest. Driving near the base of the mountain gave me a good chance to peer up at the tiny hut perched only meters from the summit of the 1311m high mountain. I had wanted to spend a night up in the hut ever since I was young, but it took a long time for the stars to align.

The impossible location of the little hut on Mt Peel

An early-ish start from Christchurch had me at the start of the Deer Spur Track mid morning. The area where you park your car is always shaded in the winter, and frost still coated all that was exposed. The Deer Spur track is the ‘easy’ way to the top of Hautekerekere / Little Mt Peel(1311m), and starts with a climb up through a nice section of beech forest with the odd view of the open vastness that is the Canterbury Plains. After a couple of hours I got above the treeline, and I had my first view of the hut, and its impossible location. The effort of trudging up the ridge pays off above the treeline. Once above the views are epic, views I would enjoy until the next morning. Deer Spur continues in a series of undulating small peaks which I always seem to miscount, which leads me to thinking I’m climbing the last peak, only to see one more down and up to go! Finally I got the the very last section of track before one last scramble got me up to the hut to drop off my bag, and then on to the summit. As I had arrived at the hut mid afternoon I decided to ditch some gear and see how far I could get along the ridge behind the hut. The ridge continues north west for about 4-ish kilometers, first over Middle Mt Peel(1583m), and then on to the biggest peak, Mt Peel(1743m). Time and daylight weren’t on my side, but I was just keen to see how far I could go in the remaining light of the day. I managed to get to Middle Mt Peel(1583m), and I didn’t feel like getting caught out higher up on the mountain in the dark, so I took in the epic views at Middle Mt Peel(1583m) and then turned back….

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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