Tackle the recently reopened Old Ghost Road bike trail in New Zealand and you'll journey through some of the South Island's most pristine wilderness.
As rugged as the goldminers who first carved their way through New Zealand’s west-coast wilderness in the 1870s, the recently reopened Old Ghost Road represents the Kiwis’ current claim to the global adventuring crown.
Catnip to mountain bikers and trampers keen to get off the grid, the 85-kilometre trail traverses some of the South Island’s most spectacular back country. Named for the four deserted mining towns it passes through on its journey from Buller Gorge to Seddonville, The Old Ghost Road is a natural wonderland of native forest and giddy alpine lookouts, with cliff- hugging trails and green ferns framing clear mountain streams.
Experienced riders generally take two to three days on the trail; walkers, four or five. It’s very much a DIY holiday. Use of the trail is free, while a small payment is required to stay at huts along the way. Book ahead to ensure a bunk berth in a woodfire-heated cabin or one of the private four-bed sleep-outs open during the warmer months. They’re equipped with composting toilets, gas cookers and basic showers but you need to carry your own food and sleeping bag – and kiss any hope of an internet connection goodbye.
Fancy a guide? A number of Old Ghost Adventures packages will value-add the experience with everything from luggage-carrying and shuttle transfers to rafting and heli-biking. But The Old Ghost Road is really all about the things that money can’t buy, whether it’s spying the shy kiwi bird or traversing the three swing bridges over stunning Mokihinui Gorge. Only the truly hardy would tackle it in winter when snowdrifts can block the way – but then, they don’t call it “the new Fiordland” for nothing.