Trailforks Trail of the Month: Old Ghost Road, NZ

Jan 27, 2024
by Holly Duncan  
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When it comes to mountain biking in the South Island of New Zealand, the options are as diverse as the landscapes themselves. For starters you've got Nelson, Christchurch and Queenstown (all world class riding destinations in their own right)... just to name a few rider favourites on the menu - but in this writeup we're taking a detour to give you a taste of some kiwi backcountry wilderness, a whole 85km of it!

We're taking you to the North West corner of the South Island, where there's a beast of a singletrack ride waiting to be added to (or ticked off) your wishlist. 'Old Ghost Road' stands as the rugged remains of an 85km gold miner's trail, stretching from the 'old dray road' at Lyell in the South to the Mokihinui River in the North. Born from a vision in 2007, this multi-use trail came to life in 2013, thanks to the efforts of passionate volunteers, backed by the New Zealand Cycle Trail project.


photo by odinwoods
photo by peakleaders

Early morning rise and shine on the Old Ghost Road

The early bird gets the sunrise - be like the bird (and Todd Couper pictured above) to get an early start and hopefully witness the morning light creeping into the surrounding valleys and native bush.

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bigquotesJust finished riding two days ago. Trail was in amazing condition and the weather was perfect. Five hour ride from Lyell to Ghost Road Hut the first day. Tough uphill ride most of the way, but scenery made it extremely rewarding. Hut and people staying that night were awesome. Incredible sunrise in the morning, and exhilarating but exhausting nine hour, 55 km ride down to Seddonville the next day. Breathtaking photo stops throughout both days. This track was everything I hoped it would be, and more. Props to every single person who maintains this trail. One of the great rides (or walks I assume) in the world!
- Richard1971

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sick backcountry NZ riding

Heavens Door is the top of a big climb on the first day of the Old Ghost Road

Knock knock knockin' on Heaven's Door - the top of a big climb on the first day of the Old Ghost Road. Hours can tick by slowly on big mountain rides through the dense bush, with each kilometre being crossed off by the rhythmic cadence of each pedal stroke. While this track can be ridden year-round, be ready for the unpredictable mountain weather which includes snowfall and icy sections. You'll want to pack that rain shell, merino layers and extra socks, as the track encounters roughly 190 days of rainfall annually. In the gritty world of mountain biking, adaptability is key – so gear up and embrace the adventure!


The journey wraps up in Seddonville. Here you'll find Seddonville Hotel, an obligatory stop for the Old Ghost Road survivors, and let's be real, after conquering the 85km ride, it's not just the only business in town; it's your sanctuary, your reward, and your official pitstop for that well-deserved post-ride brew n' burger!

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If you're a fan of this trail, any donations to our buddies at Buller Cycling Club go a long way in fuelling the ongoing development and maintenance of their trails, ensuring it stays in prime condition for all users. (Bonus: earn Trail Karma while you're at it)!






You can add this trail to your Trailforks Wishlist - click here to find out how!

For more details on the trail and booking accommodation in the huts, check out the Old Ghost Road website.

Photo/rider mentions:
odinwoods, peakleaders, Todd Couper, Agata Bulska, HI-Adventures, deaneparkernz

Posted In:
Travel Trailforks


Author Info:
thespeedykiwi avatar

Member since Sep 4, 2018
3 articles

22 Comments
  • 12 0
 Inspired, now I'm probably going to spend a bunch of money I don't have, to go on a bike trip I don't have time for. It's gonna be awesome.
  • 7 4
 Seems like an amazing trail!

The screenshot in the article shows a bug in TF that’s been around for a while: showing the elevation gain in miles.

The total descent is shown in feet, as it should be. Ascent should be shown the same way.
  • 5 0
 Switch to metric, you'll barely notice the difference
  • 4 0
 I rode the old ghost road in 2018 and it was easily one of the coolest bike rides I’ve ever done. Not at all technical, but fun riding across an incredible wilderness landscape.
  • 1 0
 2019 for me. Great couple of days on a bike. We got lucky with weather, nothing but sun.
  • 1 0
 I was there that year as well, dont really remember the climb, just know it was long and I got my ass kicked. and it was hot, but totally worth it.
  • 3 0
 A heads up book the huts well in advance
Ghost lake hut for a 2 day ride it’s at the top so start the day with a great descent
Stay at the lodge at the end of the trail great food and beers
Awesome ride for sure
  • 1 0
 Bike rentals?
  • 3 0
 @sanchofula: www.otbtamurchison.co.nz

He has hire bikes, also has accommodation in Murchison, he's an official partner with The Old Ghost Road and runs a shuttle for riders.
  • 1 0
 Great trail indeed! The bunk beds are a bit pricey nowadays ($160 nzd) but all for a good cause. This blog post from the Kona cog is well worth look - cog.konaworld.com/moving-mountains-with-the-kona-unit-x - shows a bit more of what's on offer as well as OGR. Fantastic part of NZ and well worth spending some time exploring.
  • 1 0
 What a sick trail! all kind of trails in one (and landscapes..when it's not foggy! oops)
didn't even know about the huts when I planned to ride it.. so did it in a day. I had planned to do it back and forth but luckily I found someone at the bar who wanted to join me. NZ rules!

Maybe they should get rid of each 1km signs, it's frustrating to know it's almost over..or how far from the end.
  • 1 0
 Rode this last month! As good as advertised. Its a bit low-tech and can be done is 1-2 days by a fit rider, I'd opt for a hardtail if I had brought my full quiver. Anyone thinking they want more chunk could check out the Paparoa track, a couple hours west of here, which has similar huts with a bit harsher grade and more roots and rocks.
  • 2 0
 I rode this two months ago and loved it. Highly recommend. Did one day with less luggage and I preferred it to similar overnight rides
  • 1 0
 Just round the corner right at this moment...but I'm getting on a plane tomorrow back to Oz and it's probably booked out for the riding season already.
  • 2 0
 When Oppo and Pink ike collide lol.
  • 4 0
 NZ, so hot right now
  • 1 0
 We rode OGR and Paparoa during a NZ south island road trip and those two tracks are a MUST DO experience!

youtu.be/4imULB98EtA?feature=shared
  • 2 0
 I want to play! So envious...
  • 1 0
 Rode it 6 years ago over 2 days. The huts need to be booked in advance. Want to go back to see how it's changed.
  • 2 0
 For the more fit and demented it can be done in a day.
  • 1 0
 Not even that much of a mission, reasonably fit that's it. For the demented ones, there is there and back option though
  • 1 0
 Got the horses in the back







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