The Old Ghost Road, West Coast

The Old Ghost Road is one of the 23 Great Rides under Nga Haerenga, The New Zealand Cycle Trail.

Status: Sections Open

Grade: Advanced (4)

Duration: 2-3 days

Total Length: 80km

The Old Ghost Road Trail will resurrect a long forgotten 19th century gold miner’s road connecting the once thriving town of Lyell with Mokihinui on the northern West Coast of the South Island. Starting and finishing 45 minutes from Westport, this picturesque trail passes through native forest and traverses open tussock tops and ridges.

The trail will pass by numerous ghost towns and old gold mining sites. Riders and walkers won’t even need to leave the trail to connect with a major part of the West Coast’s history. Much of the heritage is lying where it was abandoned more than a century ago. The trail is generally a grade three mountain biking trail suitable for intermediate and advanced riders. Much of the Lyell section of the trail has already been largely completed. Mountain bikers and trampers will find this section a fine day outing, and it provides a good taste of what is to come.

Mountain bike rental and repair services are available in Westport, as are all the standard services you would expect from a rural service centre. The Lyell entrance is four hour drive from Christchurch or a two hour drive from Nelson.

Best time to ride

The Old Ghost Road Trail can be traversed throughout the year. The section between the Lyell Saddle and Stern Creek (yet to be built) features exposed sub alpine areas and occasional snowfall should be expected. Caution is advised regarding weather conditions. On average the wettest season is spring (September – November) and the most settled weather is late summer – early winter (February – June), although, as with weather conditions throughout New Zealand, the weather can vary throughout the year.

Getting there

The Old Ghost Road starts at the Department of Conservation’s Lyell Campground, State Highway 6, Upper Buller Gorge. On completion in 2013 it will end at Seddonville, 50km north of Westport.

Directions from Nelson/Murchison

Take State Highway 6; the Lyell Campground is 35km/25 minute drive beyond Murchison.  

Directions from Christchurch

Take the Lewis Pass Highway. At Reefton turn right onto SH69. At Inangahua Junction turn right onto SH6; Lyell campground is 15 km/10 minute drive beyond Inangahua. 

Directions from Westport

Take SH6 up the Buller Gorge. At Inangahua Junction turn right staying on SH6; Lyell campground is 15 km/10 minute drive beyond Inangahua. 

Trail partners

This trail is an initiative of the Mokihinui-Lyell Backcountry Trust supported by a number of key project partners including The New Zealand Cycle Trail Project, Development West Coast, Solid Energy New Zealand Ltd, and the Gough Group.

Click here for more information, photos and maps.