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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 12 (April 1, 1929)

A Charming Picnic Resort — Excursion To Peel, Forest

page 53

A Charming Picnic Resort
Excursion To Peel, Forest

A Delightful Outing

Peel Forest, situated on the lower slopes of Little Mount Peel (4,283ft.), at an altitude of 1,600ft, above sea level, is one of Canterbury's most delightful picnic resorts. The forest contains over 1,200 acres of native bush, through which have been cut some eight and a half miles of tracks, providing the visitor with walks of rare beauty and charm. The following account of a combined rail and motor excursion to this forest retreat, recently arranged by the Railway Department, is taken from the “Lyttclton Times.”

The Railway Department has shown commendable enterprise in organising excursions at cheap fares, and in extending its activities in this direction by arranging trips from Christchurch to Peel Forest and Timaru it is opening up what should become very popular picnic resorts with large numbers of city residents who otherwise would be unable to visit these places. Yesterday when a combined excursion to Peel Forest and Timaru was held, four hundred people made the trip, and as they were favoured with perfect weather conditions, except for a summer storm of brief duration, a thoroughly enjoyable time was spent by all.

A waterfall at Mitchells, West Coast, South Island

A waterfall at Mitchells, West Coast, South Island

The great majority of the excursionists went to Timaru, but fifty-two left the train at Rangitata and travelled a further distance of fifteen miles to Peel Forest in service cars. This charming picnic resort, with its magnificent native bush reserve, has in the past been off the beaten track for most city dwellers, but now that the Railway Department has brought it within reach of people of moderate means it should prove very popular with excursionists. There is an area of 1,200 acres of native bush, most of which is in a wonderfully well - preserved state, and the Peel Forest Road Board has catered for the wants of visitors by providing a large shelter shed with fireplaces and conveniences. This shed afforded protection for the party during a rain and hailstorm late yesterday afternoon. Fortunately most of the members of the party had returned from their walking tours when the storm broke, and, as it lasted less than half-an-hour, it really proved rather a pleasant interlude. After the storm cleared, the sun shone out brightly, and the conditions again became perfect.

A representative of the Railway Department, who travelled with the party, conducted many of the excursionists on a delightful walking tour through the reserve, a distance of about six miles being covered under pleasant and easy conditions. The scenery throughout the reserve is particularly page 54 beautiful and varied, several waterfalls adding to the delights of the trip. Those who did not feel inclined to make the longer walk with the Department's representative reaped a full measure of enjoyment by making short trips through the bush. The total length of track is about six and a half miles.

The Department arranged with the motor proprietor, Mr. C. W. M'Kenzie, to have hot water, tea, milk and sugar provided free for the excursionists on their arrival at Peel Forest, this thoughtful action being very greatly appreciated. On reaching the reserve the excursionists had their lunch in delightful surroundings, and were freed from the trouble of preparing their own tea.

The return trip to the railway was made via Mount Peel Station (the property of Lieut.-Commander Dennistoun), and the pretty own of Geraldine, the train connection being made at Orari. The trip was particularly interesting owing to the charming variety of the scenery. A halt was made at Mount Peel Station, where the excursionists were shown a giant totara tree, which has a girth of 34 feet. It is estimated to be about 300 years old. There were many other magnificent native trees in the areas of bush visited during the day.

“… Listen! All the birds are singing in leafy galleries.” (Photo, W. Kelleher.) Charming Bland's Bush, Peel Forest, Canterbury, South Island.

“… Listen! All the birds are singing in leafy galleries.”
(Photo, W. Kelleher.)
Charming Bland's Bush, Peel Forest, Canterbury, South Island.

Under favourable weather conditions such as were experienced yesterday Peel Forest is one of the most delightful spots in Canterbury for picnicking. It has already become very popular with motoring and camping parties, and now that the Railway Department has initiated cheap excursions it should greatly increase in favour. The number of excursionists who can be taken on the combined railway and motor trip is limited to 100, and the road journey is made in a fleet of comfortable pneumatic-tyred vehicles.

To a Locomotive.

It takes me to my toil each day
Through weather hot or cold;
It does not linger on the way
Because it's getting old.
It does its “bit” without reward
And lives the Golden Rule;
It never acts as though ‘twas bored
Or calls a comrade “fool.”
In making time it has a knack,
Striving with all its might;
It sticks along the same old track
And always comes out right.