Photo copyright: Grant Stirling

Old Ghost Road

OverviewTrail Status: Open

Lyell — Seddonville (2-4 days, 85km)

Where else can you ride past mining relics of a bygone era, ascend through swathes of native forest to reach breathtaking views, descend into open river valleys scattered with lakes and tarns, weave through giant podocarp rainforest inhabited by abundant wildlife, sidle along a cliff-hugging trail in a stunning river gorge and stay in huts occupying the most commanding of positions? Welcome to The Old Ghost Road.

The Old Ghost Road is quickly becoming known as one of the premier backcountry mountain biking routes in the world. This is unlike most other trails in The New Zealand Cycle Trail – this 85km trail is a very serious adventure with technical terrain and plenty of climbing and descending. While not for the faint-of-heart or inexperienced rider, if you match your experience level to this trail and prepare appropriately, The Old Ghost Road will reward the fit and experienced adventurer with an other-worldly experience.

To broaden the audience and to make The Old Ghost Road more accessible to a wider range of appetites, a set of new exciting packages – Old Ghost Adventures – has been created. Old Ghost Adventures include such options as helicopter assists to the astounding alpine tops, helicopter luggage assists, rustic luxury accommodation to start or end your journey, end-to-end transport shuttles, heli-biking or heli-hiking and even rafting the Mokihinui Gorge as the final leg of your journey. Visit the official trail website for more information.

Mining history

The past is never too far from daily life on the West Coast, New Zealand’s pioneer frontier, and there are endless opportunities to explore the rich mining heritage throughout this region.

The Old Ghost Road trail follows the paths taken by miners and passes through the ghost towns left behind by several mining operations. Keep your eyes peeled for mining relics, historical artefacts and information panels explaining the significance of the area – you’ll really get a feel for life as a miner in the late 1800s.


When dining at a restaurant on the West Coast, be sure to check the menu for the local delicacy, whitebait. This native freshwater fish is a West Coast specialty and it tastes delicious.

  • GIVE A LITTLE If you would like to assist with the on-going maintenance and enhancement of The Old Ghost Road experience, please check out our Givealittle donations Page.

Be Prepared

It doesn’t take long to plan. We’ve developed a guide with the NZ Mountain Safety Council to help you. Read and download the guide FREE and ensure you’re prepared for the following.

The Old Ghost Road is a remote wilderness experience and you will need to plan and prepare thoroughly to get the most out of your experience.

Before you head off,carefully plan each leg of your trip based on distance, elevation gain/loss, fitness levels and weather. This is not the trail to overestimate your abilities.

There are no towns or shops located along the trail, so you will need to take all necessary provisions, including first aid.

Six huts are located along The Old Ghost Road. Bookings are essential and can be made via the official trail website. You will find a toilet located at each hut.

Carry sufficient water to meet your daily needs. While rainwater is provided at each hut location, it cannot be guaranteed in periods of drought.

There is very limited mobile phone coverage along The Old Ghost Road (coverage is limited to short sections along the Lyell Range and at Ghost Lake hut).

Major stream crossings are bridged, however in periods of intense and/or prolonged rainfall, surface flooding can make certain areas hazardous or impassable. Riders (and walkers) should plan accordingly and check the weather forecast before heading off. In the event of unforeseen flooding, you must be prepared to wait for water levels to subside.

Sandflies also inhabit low lying areas of The Old Ghost Road. The huts have been constructed with insect mesh, but for extended periods outside, insect repellent is advisable.

Weather Info

Weather plays a major part of your Old Ghost Road experience, in terms of both enjoyment and safety.

While The Old Ghost Road is rideable throughout the year, be aware that the section between the Lyell Saddle and Ghost Lake Hut features exposed sub-alpine areas reaching 1340m elevation and occasional snowfall should be expected.

Extreme caution is advised regarding weather conditions. Do not attempt The Old Ghost Road during or with forecast adverse weather (snow, high rainfall, high winds).

On average the wettest season is spring (September – November) and the most settled weather is late summer to early winter (February – June). Inclement weather can occur at any time of the year - so prepare accordingly and don't get caught out.

Trail Partner

Inspiration, News and Updates

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TRAIL SAFETY UPDATE:  Twin Coast Cycle Trail DATE: 5 February 2018 ISSUE: Please note the Horeke Boardwalk is now OPEN.  Thank you....
A huge congratulations is in order for the Old Ghost Road which has become one of nine trails in the World to be taken into the International Mountain Bicycling Association's (IMBA) stable of 'EPIC Rides'. Nine new trails and rides have been added to the list of demanding, mostly singletrack experiences in remote, b...


Congratulations to everyone who has contributed to the jubilant completion of the Old Ghost Road. This long-forgotten gold miners’ road is ready to reconnect bikers to this incredible and once inaccessible land. The Grade 4 Advanced, 85km Old Ghost Road passes through magnificent native forest, five ghost towns...


The Government will grant up to $100,000 to enable the West Coast's Old Ghost Road cycle trail to be completed this year, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry announced today. The Government is working with the Mokihinui-Lyell Backcountry Trust, the Buller District Counci...


Conservation Minister Nick Smith opened a 26 kilometre section of the Old Ghost Road cycle trail in Buller on 3 February. The project is a partnership between the Mokihinui – Lyell Backcountry Trust and the Department of Conservation. It is supported by community and business interests. The Old Ghost Road is p...


Creative design and construction at its absolute best has seen the most difficult section of the Old Ghost Road conquered this week. The challenge, locally known as the infamous Suicide Slips, lay deep in the Mokihinui Gorge and dated back to the 1929 Murchison earthquake. The massive quake saw three sections of sto...


Richard Leggat, Chair of NZ Cycle Trail Inc
The Old Ghost Road is a very special trail. Due to its remoteness and grade, it's not for everyone and you need to pick the weather, but the visionaries behind this trail have given New Zealand a world-class tourism asset. RICHARD LEGGAT – Chair, NZ Cycle Trail Inc
Bob Dickson, Department of Conservation
Re-opening the 1860s County Dray Road and exposing the long forgotten settlements of Zalatown, Gibbstown and 8 Mile will allow visitors to appreciate the endurance and hardships of life in the historic goldfields. BOB DICKSON – DOC Area Manager