Hike an Abandoned Gold Miners’ Road at Old Ghost Road
Hike an Abandoned Gold Miners’ Road at Old Ghost Road

Hike an Abandoned Gold Miners’ Road at Old Ghost Road

In the North West corner of the South Island of New Zealand a ghost has awakened. A long-forgotten gold miners’ road has been revived as a mountain biking and tramping trail – connecting the old dray road in the Lyell (Upper Buller Gorge) to the mighty Mokihinui River in the north. The 85km-long Old Ghost Road traverses majestic native forest, open tussock tops, river flats and forgotten valleys.

What is the history of the Old Ghost Road?

During the West Coast Gold Rush in the early 1860s, the town of Lyell on the Buller River was founded. A dray road was built at the time towards the Lyell Saddle to give access to several mines and gold towns.

The Old Ghost Road is an 85km trail that winds its way through remote valleys, across mountain tops and down river gorges. It is suitable for trampers with a reasonable level of backcountry skills and experience. Because the trail surface is generally firm underfoot (i.e. a mixture of compacted crushed rock and other natural material) trampers should consider their footwear choice carefully. For most trampers, The Old Ghost Road will typically be a 4-night/5-day undertaking. The direction of travel is less sensitive for trampers – take your pick.

A south to north itinerary is described below purely for illustrative purposes:

  • Day One – Lyell Carpark (DoC Campground) to Lyell Saddle Hut, 18km, 4-6 hours.
  • Day Two – Lyell Saddle Hut to Ghost Lake Hut, 12km, 3-5 hours.
  • Day Three – Ghost Lake Hut to Stern Valley Hut, 13km, 3-4 hours.
  • Day Four – Stern Valley Hut to Specimen Point Hut, 25km, 7-8 hours.
  • Day Five – Specimen Point Hut to Welcome Bay/Seddonville, 17km, 4-6 hours.

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