Bewitched By The Old Ghost


Photo Credit: Sven Martin - The Old Ghost Road

In the North West corner of the South Island of New Zealand the ghost of a long-forgotten Gold miners road has been exhumed, breathing life into a new mountain biking and walking track.

26,500 hours committed by volunteers and supporters have more than surpassed expectations, carving a new trail in the depths of this previously inaccessible environment. Many years of blood, sweat and tears not simply through their commitment, but a love affair with this mesmerising terrain, and the determination to make their dream a reality.

Each generation is born into an increasingly urbanised environment, and this unique trail aspires to reconnect bikers to this incredible and once impervious land. The final middle 20km section from Goat Creek Hut to Ghost Lake Hut is now finished linking all three sections, and consummates the ambitious and bewitching vision.

The Grade 4 Advanced Old Ghost Road is an epic off-road adventure and New Zealand’s longest off-road mountain bike route. The spirits of the old miners and track builders inescapable as the trail passes through magnificent native forest, five ghost towns, open river valleys, lakes and tarns in this 85km outdoor museum.

The old Dray Road in the Lyell (Upper Buller Gorge) connects with the mighty Mokihinui River in the north, joining the Charming Creek Walkway and the Denniston Plateau. The Old Ghost Road is more than just a trail through the wilderness, it’s a magical journey through diverse cultural forgotten valleys.

Working with the New Zealand Cycle Trail, the Mokihinui-Lyell Backcountry Trust has partnered with West Coast entities to make the Old Ghost Road a reality. The trail heads are two hours drive apart, the equivalent of 2-3 days biking or 4-5 days walking. Due to its elevation profile, Lyell is the suggested starting point, and riders can enjoy day and overnight trips from here.

The official northern trail head is 3.5km inland from the town of Seddonville next to the Rough and Tumble Bush Lodge. Seddonville has a campground and the Seddonville Hotel. Hike n Bike Shuttle, Trek Express and the Heaphy Bus Company can provide a range of transportation options (all Official Partners). There are also four hut sites managed by the Mokihinui-Lyell Backcountry Trust along the trail (all with additional summer sleepouts from October to April), and two Department of Conservation huts at the Mokihinui Forks and Goat Creek.

Ghost Lake Hut is located 12km from Lyell Saddle and 30km from The Old Ghost Road’s southern trail head. Perched above an alpine cirque and nestled beneath Rocky Tor, the Hut has extensive views across Murchison to Nelson Lakes National Park and to Kahurangi National Park. The Hut has 12 bunks, roof water, sink, communal living area, wood stove, outside composting toilet and bike storage. It’s a magical place where heritage, storytelling and wilderness entwine in an extraordinary way.

New to the Trail is a selection of Old Ghost Adventures, four expertly tailored itineraries to choose from allowing you to discover the track either as day trips or multi-day trips (including adrenalin fuelled Jet Boat, Rafting and Heli-bike options). The Old Ghost Road is everything you could want in a Mountain Bike Adventure. Spectacular scenery, tremendous riding, superb facilities and a real sense of New Zealand’s quintessential hinterland.

The Old Ghost Road will undeniably enrich and inspire those who visit, just like the many remarkable volunteers who have redefined the future of this phenomenal world-class Cycle Trail. Perhaps it’s time to train harder, and ensure this Trail becomes part of your journey.