Monday 2 December 2013

Mt Peel & the Himalayan Lilies

Yesterday we travelled inland for about 30kms towards Mt Peel and the Rangitata River Gorge. Along the way we passed numerous deer farms, David spotted some ears sticking out of the grass as we flew by a large paddock. He backed up so I could get some shots & the fawn stayed very still just like his Mamma taught him to. And soon after this shot he ducked even further down until just the tips of his ears were showing.

A little further on we passed a herd of deer in velvet (well I'm assuming that is what is happening, all with soft downy antlers) what a sight they were, they looked fantastic all moving in unison back & forward along the fence line. Deer are so highly strung, any movement spooked them this way & that. They weren't at all sure what to do; whether to run or come closer.


We stopped & had a look at the DOC camp at Peel Forest. What a great camp site this will be to come back to, the river & good fishing on one side, Mt Peel & many walks on the other. AND powered sites too! Now that is a change for a DOC site. We didn't have time for any walks today though, we were happy exploring by vehicle.

On further up the valley we travelled until we reached the high country station Mt Peel, where I'd learnt that there was a beautiful stone church very near the homestead that I could photograph.  It was gifted to the community by the Station owners back in 1869. We spotted it from the road up on a knoll overlooking the river flats and drove on up to it.

The Church of the Holy Innocents, Mt Peel Station

Sadly it had been very badly damaged in the Christchurch earthquake three years ago and the front stone wall had collapsed. Not only had the stone collapsed but the beautiful stained glass front window had been smashed too. It would have been heart breaking to see the damage after the church had stood for so long. Apparently with a lot of fund raising & generous donations the window is being restored at a cost of well over $60,000. Much of the broken glass, some of it just splinters & shards, was saved by the family and used in the restoration.  More fundraising is needed to repair the church though.

There is a very famous New Zealander buried in the graveyard; Dame Ngaio Marsh well known for her crime writing novels. She was a governess here on the station for many years and kept her ties up with the family until her death.

Mt Peel Station is also very well known for it's lilies. In the forest that surrounds the homestead there are thousands & thousands of Himalayan lilies & they are due to bloom over the next two weeks. In fact there is a fund raising open day in two weeks time where visitors can see the lilies and take a tour through the homestead as well. Something that is very rarely done but obviously when there's a need there's a way.

From what I saw of the flower gardens surrounding the beautiful homestead, we caught a glimpse of it on the drive up to the church, they are very well looked after and manicured. There was also a huge vegetable garden at the rear with built up beds, raised boxes & beautiful bean teepees dotted in amongst it, all very English. And around the outside were the lilies en mass through the trees. The homestead was built in 1865 and it & the station have stayed in the same family for all these years.

The lilies are magnificent, apparently they escaped after a conservatory got blown down and have self seeded right through the forest & bush around the home grounds. What a shame we were too early, I would have loved to take the tour & see the flowers in full bloom.

We drove further on until the road turned away from the river, another 40kms on gravel road and we would have reached the well known high country sheep station Mesopotamia (from a Greek word meaning between two rivers). Now that is one place I would really love to visit, I've added it to my list for next time. Across the river and about the same distance into the mountains is another very well know sheep station, Erewhon (the title is an anagram of 'nowhere').

This is as close as we got to the Rangitata Gorge which was a bit disappointing, we did follow a dirt track past the rafting company across private land but that too got a bit rough so we called it a day and turned for home.

We stopped at one of the river tributaries and had some lunch below the bridge, there was an hour long walk along the stream bed up to some falls but we decided it was too hard going climbing over the rocks & river boulders. The water was low, crystal clear & ice cold.

This big fellow was waiting by the ute when we got back to it. The paddock had about 30 bulls in it, half white Charolais & half black Angus, it looked kind of cool, the two colours together. I wasn't game to test out his temperament by patting him; apparently they are very quiet (yeah right!). And I definitely would not have gone near the Angus, they looked mean.

Historic Peel Forest Hall
River bed flower
 We are now in Waimate...


  1. MT.Peel and the Peel forest was the places I was trying to recall when we talked about South Canterbury when you were staying here. Dad.

    1. Yes, I wondered that when we decided to head out that way. It's a lovely area, we'll definitely be back to explore further xx


Thank you for taking the time to leave a message, I love reading them! All comments are personally moderated by me and I will post and answer them as soon as possible, Shellie