Introduction

This old gold miners' road is being revived as a tramping and mountain biking track. It traverses native forests, tussock tops, river flats and valleys with stunning views of the magnificent Mokihinui Gorge and surrounds.

Track overview

85 km one way

Walking and tramping

4 - 5 days Advanced: Tramping track

Mountain biking

2 - 3 days Advanced: Grade 4

Dog access

No dogs

About this track

Description

The Old Ghost Road traverses the majestic native forest, open tussock tops, river flats and forgotten valleys of the Buller region. Following the long forgotten gold miners' route, it connects the old dray road in the Lyell to the mighty Mokihinui River in the north.

Lyell Campsite to Lyell Saddle Hut

Distance: 18 km
Time: Mountain biking: 3 - 4 hr, tramping: 4 - 6 hr

Follow the forgotten 19th century county dray road as it winds its way towards the Lyell Saddle (875 m).

For mountain bikers wanting an early start on the trail the Lyell Campsite offers a convenient camping option close to the trail start.

Lyell Campsite.

Lyell Campsite

Category: Standard
Facilities: 18 non-powered/tent sites, bbq, water from tap, wheelchair accessible with assistance
Bookings not required - first come, first served

The Mokihinui Lyell Backcountry Trust have built a hut at Lyell Saddle. Book by visiting the Old Ghost Road website.

Lyell Saddle Hut to Ghost Lake Hut

Distance: 12 km
Time: Mountain biking: 2 hr 30 min - 4 hr, tramping: 3 - 5 hr

From Lyell Saddle Hut continue another 6 km through bush to the top of the Lyell Range. Travel a further 6 km along predominately open tops that offer dramatic views before arriving at the breathtaking Ghost Lake Hut site. Sitting at 1200 metres the views are a highlight from this stunning setting. 

The Mokihinui Lyell Backcountry Trust have built a hut at Ghost Lake. Book by visiting the Old Ghost Road website.

Ghost Lake Hut to Stern Valley Hut

Distance: 13 km
Time: Mountain biking 2 - 3 hr, tramping: 3 - 4 hr

Check your brakes before departing from Ghost Lake Hut as the trail descends almost 800 metres over the next 13 km to Stern Valley Hut. The first 4 kilometres is the most technical of the entire trail reaching Grade 5 in places - be prepared.  At the end of the breathtaking Skyline Ridge you reach the Skyline Steps. You need to carry your bike down 60 metres of narrow and winding steps, before descending into Stern Valley.

The Mokihinui Lyell Backcountry Trust have built a hut at Stern Valley. Book by visiting the Old Ghost Road website.

Stern Valley Hut to Goat Creek Hut

Distance: 14 km
Time: Mountain biking 2 - 3 hr, tramping: 3 - 4 hr

From Stern Valley Hut the trail meanders on up through the interesting Ernest Valley, a tributory of Stern Creek. Some 'earnest' climbing is again required to get over the saddle that allows passage into the Goat Creek catchment and on down to the confluence with the Mokihinui River South Branch.

Note that Goat Creek must be forded to reach the hut. This crossing may be hazardous or impassable in times of elevated creek flow or flood. 

Goat Creek Hut.

Goat Creek Hut

Category: Basic/bivvies
Facilities: 4 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings not required - first come, first served

Goat Creek Hut to Mokihinui Forks Hut

Distance: 8 km
Time: Mountain biking 1 - 2 hr, tramping 2 - 3 hr

Travel through towering podacarp forest to reach the Mokihinui Forks Hut. 

The Mokihinui Lyell Backcountry Trust manage the Mokihinui Forks Hut. Book by visiting the Old Ghost Road website.

Mokihinui Forks Hut to Specimen Point Hut

Distance: 3 km
Time: Mountain biking: 30 min - 1 hr, tramping: 1 - 1 hr 30 min

From the Mokihinui Forks Hut turn left down into the head of the Mokihinui River Gorge.

Mountain biking the Old Ghost Road.
Mountain biking the Old Ghost Road

Looking towards the South Branch. Photo: Sven Martin
Looking towards the South Branch with Mount Glasgow in the distance

The Mokihinui Lyell Backcountry Trust have built a hut at Specimen Point. Book by visiting the Old Ghost Road website.

Specimen Point Hut to Seddonville

Distance:  17 km
Time: Mountain biking: 2 - 4 hr, tramping: 4 - 6 hr

From Specimen Point Hut, the Mokihinui Gorge shows the way to the sea. The old miners' road is rejoined for the virtually flat journey out to Seddonville through the spectacular Mokihinui River gorge.

Enjoying a break on the Old Ghost Road.
Enjoying a break on the Old Ghost Road

Getting there

The southern end of the Old Ghost Road starts at the Lyell Conservation Campsite (State Highway 6) in the Upper Buller Gorge, a 50 minute drive from Westport.

The northern end of the Old Ghost Road finishes at Seddonville, 50 km north of Westport on State Highway 67.

Bookings

Bookings are required for the huts managed by the Mokihinui Lyell Backcountry Trust: Lyell Saddle Hut, Ghost Lake Hut, Stern Valley Hut, Mokihinui Forks Hut and Specimen Point Hut. To book, visit the Old Ghost Road website.

Bookings are not required for the Goat Creek Hut, which is managed by DOC and is on a first come basis.

Know before you go

The trail traverses a significant mountain range with altitudes from near sea level to alpine at1300 m. Conditions can vary greatly within a few hours and the weather should not be taken lightly, users need to be prepared for all conditions.  Snow has been experienced in summer, along with heavy rain, strong winds in exposed sections and cloud cover restricting visibility.

Before starting the trail ensure you have checked for the most up to date weather forecasts, and ensure that you have appropriate clothing, extra food, suitable safety equipment, and gear to carry out any bike repairs that may be required.

Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.

Contacts

Kawatiri / Westport Office
Phone:   +64 3 788 8008
Address:   Russell Street
Westport 7825
Email:   paparoavc@doc.govt.nz
Full office details
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