Emily Falls was another of the three main waterfalls that we knew were resident in the Peel Forest. This particular waterfall required a little bit more work to reach than Acland Falls, which we had visited earlier in the day. Plus, this waterfall was smaller at somewhere between 5-10m tall. Yet even though the thought did cross our minds about whether the two-hour return walk to see this waterfall was worth the trouble, as you can see from the photo at the top of this page, it was still picturesque and serene. In fact, Julie and I almost had the entire trail to ourselves so I reckon that it couldn’t get much more secluded and tranquil than that. And with such serenity, we were able to start paying attention to some of Nature’s subtleties, which really made this excursion much more than than just the waterfall itself.
Speaking of the waterfalling experience, Julie and I began the walk from a car park at the bottom of a hill (see directions below). We had to walk up a pretty steep and unsealed road (which I wondered whether our car would have made it up anyways so I was relieved that we didn’t have to drive it). At about half-way up this fairly long uphill climb, we then saw the signed trailhead. At that point, the track continued to climb relentlessly even before finally leveling out. Along the way, we saw a signposted spur for Rata Falls (the third waterfall in the Peel Forest that we knew of), but since it was said to be another 45 minutes away (or 90 minutes round trip), we opted to skip it.
Then, the track descended towards a stream where we did a little bit of some extensive streambed walking in which we crossed the shallow stream three times. Once we regained the trail away from the streambed, the track continued to climb some more before we finally descended towards Emily Falls itself. Given such undulations combined with the length of this track, that was when doubts about whether this waterfall was worth the trouble started to creep in. In any case, the falls was satisfying, and Julie and I even did some additional scrambling onto some rocks in the area to add a little more variety to our viewing experience.
Overall, we spent around 90 minutes to complete the hike, which meant the estimate on the sign at the trailhead was pretty spot on.
Since we visited Emily Falls from Acland Falls, we’ll pick up the driving directions from there. See the Acland Falls page for specific directions on how to get there from Christchurch, Timaru, or Tekapo.
From Acland Falls, we drove south on Rangitata Gorge Rd for about 1.6km before turning right onto Blandswood Rd. This would be the road we would turn left on from Peel Forest Rd had we visited Emily Falls instead of Acland Falls first. We then followed Blandswood Rd for just under 2km before turning right onto Lookout Rd (don’t cross the river!). Shortly thereafter, we found the day-use car park to the left side of Lookout Rd. Even though the road continued beyond this car park, it got real steep and we definitely had doubts about whether our rental passenger car might have even made it up to the top.
Once we parked the car at the bottom of the hill, we had to walk up that steep road towards the official signposted trailhead. Some of this walking distance was reflected in the hiking distance given near the top of this page.
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