The Old Ghost Road

The Old Ghost Road. Credit: Phil Rossiter

New Zealand’s longest single track follows an ancient gold miners’ route

If you’re looking for an epic adventure, you need to travel the Old Ghost Road. In a legendary feat of trail-building, modern-day pioneers connected the two ends of a long-forgotten gold miners’ road, creating the ultimate backcountry mountain biking and hiking trail. It takes you deep into the Kahurangi National Park, and the mindsets of the 1900s pioneers who founded the remote ghost towns en route.

85 km
3-4 days mountain biking / 4-5 days walking
Advanced cycling / intermediate hiking

The trail

The Old Ghost Road is a must-do challenge for confident mountain bikers and fit walkers. As impressive as the 85km purpose-built trail are the West Coast landscapes it traverses: sheer-sided valleys cloaked in misty forest, roaring rivers and vast views.

Trailside mining relics and ghost towns punctuate the long climb on day one, but eerie silences are less common thanks to the native birdlife flourishing off the track. A predator control programme started during the build means many species, including great spotted kiwi/roroa, now inhabit the dense green bush.

In winter, you might feel the crunch of snow under your feet or tires as you climb up to the Lyell Range, dramatic mountain views from all angles. Even in low visibility the ridge sections are still thrilling, as you make your way through the mist to Ghost Lake Hut, where a roaring fire awaits (as well as cooking facilities, bucket showers and private sleepouts).

From here, there’s a snaking singletrack punctuated by a gnarly rock garden and the infamous Skyline Steps, an engineering marvel mountain bikers will need to master carrying their bike for. Then, both riders and hikers can relax into their stride over the next day or two and enjoy the vastness of the Earnest Valley, towering forests, and the last leg of the original gold miners’ trail that follows the roaring Mokihinui River.

Old Ghost Road - PC HagePhoto.jpg
Old Ghost road hut - image by Sven Martin.jpg

Accommodation + Transport

There are four huts on the trail that must be booked in advance on the official Old Ghost Road website.These are equipped with running water, gas cookers, mattresses and firewood for the wood-burning stoves.

The southern trailhead is at Lyell Historic Reserve and the northern trailhead is 3.5 km inland of the West Coast town of Seddonville. Accommodation at either end of the trail is scarce, but the Rough and Tumble Lodge near Seddonville is a popular end-stop with walkers and riders, where you can enjoy a hot outdoor shower followed by a pizza on the sunny deck.

Trail shuttles operate from as far away as Nelson, but you can leave your car in Westport just 45 minutes away from the start of the trail. A list of transport providers, as well as helicopter shuttles, can be found on the official trail website.

Find out more

The Old Ghost Road traverses rugged and remote terrain. Good fitness and MTB skills are required, as well as all-weather gear. Check the Old Ghost Road trail website for more trail information, updates and gear recommendations.