Dennistoun Bush

Dennistoun Bush

Peel Forest Park

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

Nau mai, haere mai

I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.

I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!


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A mock up of a pit saw site


1.8 km return | 45 minutes return

There’s an unusually large number of big trees on this walk


Peel Forest is well signposted 14 km from the Inland Scenic Route. There is a campground and large parking area named Te Wanahau with a shelter, information board with the track network displayed.

The start of the track is signposted before the parking area in Blandswood. Blandswood Road is signposted on the left 1 km after leaving the settlement of Peel Forest.

Park at the designated parking area on the Lookout Road/Blandswood Road junction 300 m past the start of the track.


This rooty track performs a loop through wind-blown and damaged forest. A short detour leads to a sawpit mock-up next to a hollow-centred stump the size of a small family car.

Polynesian History

Departing from a southern harbour, the waka Arai-te-uru left with Chief Tarahaoa and his wife Hua-te-kerekere. The waka foundered in a storm at Shag Point and many sailors were drowned. Tarahaoa and Hua-te-kerekere wandered inland, settling in a place where the setting sun melted into a mountainous skyline. They asked the gods to metamorphose their physical bodies to mountains after their deaths, wishes which were realised. Big Mount Peel and Little Mount Peel now take their respective names.

European History

George Dennistoun was the third pastoralist in the area, having secured the run from Edward Cooper. G.J. Dennistoun bought the original Jollie homestead in 1873. Descendants have lived many generations on the 2,300 acre block.

Pit sawing was a dirty job and bloody hard work. Having dug a pit deep enough for a man to stand in, long enough for a heavy log to be placed over and strong enough to avoid collapse, the timber men would maneuver the freshly cut logs onto stands above the pit. With one chap above and another poor joker, usually the young fella’ below, the team would use long saws to split the log into the desired planks and boards. For the pitsawer below, not only did he have the hard work of sawing, but he was entombed in a grave-like pit and got covered in sawdust.

Pastoralists first job was to cut the readily accessible timber on the forest edge to construct fences, stockyards and homes. The sawyers lived in V-huts, thatched with totara bark. The pit-sawers were sometimes immortalised with their names on the walls. Ben Thorne was a notable sawman and got paid the top dollar - 20 /- a hundred feet, 40 / a thousand laths and 20 / a thousand for shingles. Some had nicknames like ‘Ben the Butcher’ and ‘Bill the Snob’.


Feature Value Info


DOC Canterbury

Central government organisation


South IslandCanterburyGeraldine


  • Walking
  • Free


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DOC Managed

Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍

Cymen Crick's avatar

Cymen Crick

Rankers Owner