Little Mount Peel
There is not much native forest of any kind left in South Canterbury, but most of it is in Peel Forest. Some massive totara live on the fertile flat below Little Mount Peel, and this walk climbs up through the bush to a high alpine peak, with an eye-opening view of the patchwork plains.
From the Blandswood carpark take the Deer Spur track, which passes the junction with the Fern Walk and climbs steadily up through a mixed forest of fuchsia, broadleaf, lemonwood (tarata) and mahoe, with a glossy carpet of ferns.
There are occasional views of the plains as the track passes the junction with Allan’s Track, and some southern rata trees (look out for the crimson flowers at Christmas time). The track then enters the upper alpine shrub belt, which consists of turpentine, flax and dracophyllums.
The tarn, which is at an altitude of 900 m, might be something of a disappointment if it has not rained for a while, leaving little more than a sodden bogland. However, there are some splendid specimens of spaniard with razor-sharp flowering stalks, often reaching over a metre in height.
The track winds up the spur onto the tussock, with extensive boardwalks higher up. The last 150 m is a steeper, muddier climb to the small, sharp top of Little Mount Peel. There is a beacon on top and a small shelter 20 m below (enclosed, with seats and water).