There are many walks in the area. Two that can be completed in an afternoon are Emily Falls Walk and Dennistoun Bush Walk. Both very different.
After driving through the small (tiny) picturesque village of Peel Forest at the base of the Southern Alps foothills turn left onto Blandswood Road and then at the end of the seal turn right onto Lookout Road and onto the car park.
Emily Falls Walk. Lovely bush and listen to the bellbirds singing.
Walking up the road to the track entrance the air is filled with the ringing sound of the Bellbirds singing in the trees. Starting on the track is easy but soon winds its way upwards for about 15 minutes to the top of the ridge. On the way large 'old man' Fuchsia (Fuchsia excorticata) hang over the track and at this time of year are in full flower. Many ferns line the walking track along the way.
At the top of the ridge the track divides to go to Emily Falls or Rata Falls.
Taking the Emily Falls track defend to the steam and walk up stream for about 100 metres. With little recent rain you wont get your feet wet but with gentle and careful rock hopping rejoin the track to the Falls. Lovely bush area and nice stands of South Island Kowhai ( Sophora microphylla).
Return the same way and return time about 1.30 hours to 2 hours.
"Old Man" Fuschia - Flakey orange bark
Dennistoun Bush Walk. Spectacular 1000 year old trees.
This excellent flat bush walk is found on Blandwood Road before heading up to the Emily Falls car park. A large sign on the side of the rad with a nice mown grease picnic area makes it easy to spot.
A wide waking track leaves the panic area and forks into a circular track around the area.
Within a few metres of entering the track gigantic Totara, Kahikatea and Matai trees are encountered. These extra large trees are remnants for the extensive logging carried out in the 1800’s. Now about 1000 years old these are spectacular in size, form and structure. Not just one or two but many trees are scattered through this reserve.
Apart from the walk and trees take a very short side trip to the saw pit area and imagine to work that early foresters undertook to fell these large trees and hand mill them into usable timber.
Enjoy the walk amongst these giants, enjoy the singing of the bellbirds.
Saw Pit where felled logs were cut into usable timber
The Giant Trees
To help with identifying the trees the short description below will make it easy. The leaves of these trees are all different but as they are large stand back and look up at them and identify the leaves against the sky.
There are a number of useful links at the end of each description.
Totara, Podocarpus totara. Easily recognises by its tough green spiked leaves about 25mm long and 4mm wide and its stringy bark totara grow into very large diameter trees up to 30m high. Here on this walk are excellent examples of very large specimens.
"One of the largest trees in the forest, its timber was prized by Maori as being the best for building their massive war canoes, and was also the main timber used for carving. Until more recent times it was also valued for bridge and wharf construction, as well as a wide variety of other uses ... Ancient Maori custom demanded that when a totara tree was felled for timber a young seedling had to he planted in its place in order to appease Tane, the god of the forest, for removing one of his 'children' " (Metcalf 2002).
Kahikatea, Dacrycarpus dacrydioides, (previously Podocarpus dacrydioides) is the tallest native tree in New Zealand. The one growing here are certainly tall and criss cross the track with their large surface roots.
It can be recognised by the leaves which are very small being about 1mm wide and 3mm long tightly packed along the stems. The colour may change for a large purplish green to an olive green. The trunk has a nice flakey pattern to it with approximately 75mm diameter pieces of bark flaking off at different times. Large rounded surface roots cover the ground around the tree.
Matai, Prumnopitys taxifolia, (previously Podocarps taxifolia). The tall Matai has leaves about 10 - 15 mm long and 2mm wide and a dark green colour. It also has surface roots.