November 18 2013 update: The Old Ghost Road marked through-route is complete and open to experienced trampers. Both ends are open for mountain biking but the middle section (Ghost Lake to Goat Creek) is closed to mountain biking until further notice. In the meantime, mountain bikers can reach Lyell Saddle and Ghost Lake huts from the southern end, and Specimen Point Hut and the Mokihinui South Branch (DoC huts at Mokihinui Forks and Goat Creek) from the northern end.
We'd love as many mountain bikers as possible to come and enjoy this trail and landscape.........BUT, the reality is The Old Ghost Road is not suitable for riders of all ages and abilities.
The Old Ghost Road is a Grade 4 (advanced) mountain biking trail and has a variable natural surface. In general and in accordance with international standards, riders should expect the following on a Grade 4 trail:
Our main aim is that mountain bikers' enjoy this experience and are safe doing so. This is as much about planning, preparation and the expectations you form, but it also involves you being realistic about your own ability. If you are in doubt, we recommend using the following guide to determine whether The Old Ghost Road is for you:
In recognition of user needs, we have tried our best to ensure the trail standard and surface is as good as possible. But The Old Ghost Road traverses some wild lands and steep sides and drop-off's are unavoidable. Undoubtedly, this is part of the attraction of The Old Ghost Road - but only if this is within your capability and comfort zone. Please do not attempt The Old Ghost Road if it is not.
Riders will be able to enter from Seddonville or Lyell. Let’s start at Lyell at the Department of Conservation's picturesque Lyell Campground.
From Lyell (110 metres above sea level) it’s pedal power up the long forgotten 19th century county dray road as it winds its way steadily towards the Lyell Saddle (just under 18 km) and the new hut facilities situated there. Interpretive displays along the trail point out old settlements and historic features.
Most riders will reach the Lyell Saddle (875 metres above sea level) in 3-4 hours (765 m of ascent!). For the fit and keen among you, you have the choice of continuing on up onto the open tops of the Lyell Range. Approximately 6 km of climbing through bush and 6 km of predominantly open tops travel offering dramatic views over 2.5 - 4 hours will have you arriving at the breath-taking Ghost Lake hut site (12 km on from Lyell Saddle). Views abound en route to the west and north and views abound at the hut site to the south and east.
The Ghost Lake hut sits at 1200 metres above sea level in a stunning setting. With almost 30 km behind you (from the Lyell Campground) and the high point of the ride in the bag, only masochists or the irreverant will continue past this point. It is the perfect point to 'call it a day' (if you hadn't already done so previously!).
Check your brakes before departing from the Ghost Lake hut site as the trail descends almost 800 metres over the next 11 km to the Stern Valley hut. Expect the temperature to increase once you arrive in the Stern valley. The ride from Ghost Lake hut to Stern Valley hut is unlikely to take too long - count on 1 - 3 hours.
From the Stern Valley hut the trail meanders on up through the interesting Stern Creek (north branch) valley. Some earnest climbing is again required to gain a low but sharp saddle that allows passage into the headwaters of the Goat Creek catchment and on down to the confluence with the Mokihinui River South Branch and the existing Goat Creek hut (13 km on from Stern Valley hut). Riders could expect to cover this distance in 2 - 3 hours.
From Goat Creek, riders will wind their way through towering podocarp forest to the Mokihinui 'Forks' and the refurbished DoC hut located there (8.5 km from Goat Creek - approximately 1 - 2 hours). After turning left at the Mokihinui Forks, riders will come upon the Specimen Point hut facilities 3.5 km downstream towards at the head of Mokihinui River Gorge. Riders should allow 30 mins to an hour for this section.
From the Specimen Point hut facilities, the Mokihinui Gorge shows the way to the sea. The old miners’ road is rejoined for the undulating 16 km journey out to Seddonville through the spectacular Mokihinui River gorge (2-4 hours).
Congratulations, you've just ridden The Old Ghost Road.