Old Ghost Road

Postby jimmi71 on Mon 21/Dec/15 11:00am

Apologies if this has already been posted..... but the Old Ghost Road officially opened on the 15 December. The youtube clip is worth checking out:
http://nzcycletrail.com/inspiration/201 ... eoldghost/

Looks like it will be the best ride in NZ, and even better if you make it a loop through Denniston.

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Re: Old Ghost Road

Postby Claude on Mon 21/Dec/15 7:53pm


It's on the bucket list.
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Re: Old Ghost Road

Postby Velocipedestrian on Mon 21/Dec/15 8:16pm

Claude wrote:Assume!!!

It's on the bucket list.

Yes, I assume it's on your bucket list.
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Re: Old Ghost Road

Postby jo on Mon 21/Dec/15 8:23pm

Booked for Ghost Lake Hut on the 27th. Much excite. :D
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Re: Old Ghost Road

Postby Velocipedestrian on Mon 21/Dec/15 8:28pm

Very excite, report with pics on return plz.
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Re: Old Ghost Road

Postby thorkild on Sat 2/Jan/16 10:18pm

Anyone planning on being there January 28th-ish that would be interested in doing a self shuttle. My wife and I (from Colorado/Oregon) are traveling NZ and loving pretty much everything but the sandflies and paying $100-$200 to do almost any vehicle shuttle.
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Re: Old Ghost Road

Postby jo on Sun 3/Jan/16 12:45pm

Velocipedestrian wrote:Very excite, report with pics on return plz.

Much worth the excite.
I think it'll become the Milford Track of bikepacking (with both the good and the bad associations). Heaphy-esque in some ways also, but the shuttle is easier, and the riding seemed to me to be easier.
Erosion on the descent will be substantial with increased traffic and some water. I think its worth adding a supplementary donation to your trip budget https://givealittle.co.nz/org/oldghostroad/ if you go through. They're suggesting a $40 "thank you" donation.

Lyell - camp ground is pretty good, but there are bugs. Repellent works. I left my car here under a tree with at least a dozen other vehicles and no problems. Its reassuring when theres lots of other campers around.
Weather - was perfect. Too hot if you were going to complain. Probably reaching ~28 degrees in the valleys and even overnight at Ghost Lake Hut it probably didnt drop below 16 overnight outside and was more like 22 inside. This isnt normal! I heard something like there was a hot pool of air from Australia overhead which contributed to those conditions.
Direction - Lyell to Seddonville is preferred. Not to say that its impossible to go the other way, but there are a number of steep&exposed&loose switchbacks in the section of ghost lake hut that we walked - plus the 60m stair section is downhill for more win.
Cell reception - None at lyell, I didnt find any at lyell saddle, started to pick up reception up by Bald Knob/Rocky Tor. Kept it through to Ghost Lake Hut. Nothing after the descent from Ghost Lake until the top of the Charming Creek Rd (includes Seddonville, no coverage).
Maps - You dont really need em for navigation as there are no junctions and everything is well signposted. Hard to find these days! The right one is Lyell.

I was riding with two others from Welly-town. I packed way too much as usual. And brought the wrong bike computer so I didnt have distance. Fortunately the OGR has mile markers which were handy.

Lyell - Lyell Saddle (~17km). Well graded old dray trail, good surface. We left Lyell about 10 and got there round 11:30 (2.5hrs). Only to have another 2 welly types to show up there and 2 associated mates.

Lyell Saddle (850~mASL)- Nice hut! Full pots and pans and kettle. A couple of sleepouts that would be quite nice also for a group (note that you do your cooking at the hut tho). Good drinking water.

Lyell Saddle - Ghost Lake (~13km) The next 6 km is abit tiring - just that little bit steeper and some larger loose aggregate. A line has been worn in which helps (cf friends who went through in November). I imagine if it were wet this part might slow down significantly. Good grip on the rocks (granite). After that 6km you pop out on the ridge and the riding becomes alot easier and the views to Murchison and the Tasman Sea (and cell reception) emerge. Theres a couple of appropriately placed park benches and a picnic table. Theres a 800m walking section behind Rocky Tor (though I admit to riding when I felt it was ok, probably about half). The main issue is exposure - you're going to fall a long way if you miss the edge. And the edges arent very confidence inspiring - just a slightly larger lump of aggregate in most cases. Its often narrow and sometimes lumpy.
After this its a cruisy ride to Ghost Lake Hut.
I imagine this section would be unpleasant in foul weather conditions. Its very exposed and at around 1200m. If you're considering going up with a dodgy forecast, youd be able to evaluate conditions after the 6km sucky section and retreat to Lyell Saddle Hut.

Ghost Lake Hut (1200mASL)- full cell reception, pots pans, set of cutlery and plates, helipad, fireplace. There were day trippers getting choppered in, both hikers and bikers. We had very warm conditions with little wind, but this was weird. Friends who went through in November said it got very cold here overnight. Take some newspaper up to help with the fire (though as I said it was very warm when I was there and I barely needed the sleeping bag).

Ghost Lake Hut (8am) to Stern Valley (11am)
Loose tight switchbacks with exposure are the defining feature here. Some you could ride, many werent confidence inspiring. I did alot of walking as did the others. You drop down the ridge on switchbacks, cross a saddle, then up abit again (easy, nice grade). The next was probably a highlight - Skyline Ridge. Stunning.
After Skyline Ridge was Skyline steps - 60m vertical of steps winding down. There was a handrail for at least half of it, and good grippy stuff on the steps. After that, some lovely single track takes you down to the Stern Valley Hut. I think this had good water.

Stern Valley - Goat Creek Hut
Cruisy ride along the valley, past lakes Grim and Cheerful. The climb out of the Stern Valley was straight forward, but for us it was hot in the rocky Boneyard. We were glad to get back into the trees near the saddle. On the other side, fun single track leads you down to Goat Creek. I really enjoyed this bit though its worth noting that there were some muddy sections here that would get much slower if wet. They do intend to put more aggregate down in the muddy bits. Goat Creek Hut is one of the old 4 bunk huts and water here would need to be treated.
*we had some oncoming traffic from the Stern Valley saddle onwards*

Goat Creek Hut - Mokihinui Forks Hut. Think around 1-1.5hrs.
Easy riding. You reach the Mokihinui river fairly quickly with its swingbridge and gate keeping the snail-eating-possums on the left side of the river. Mokihihui Forks Hut is pretty compact hut in a great location - reminds me of the Heaphy Hut. I'm told bugs are a feature and that the water needs to be boiled here.

Mokihinui Forks to Specimen Point Hut. About 25 mins.
I left my riding buddies at Mokihinui Forks as I was going through to Seddonville that night whereas they were staying at Specimen Pt.

Specimen Point Hut
Specimen Point is a popular choice for both riders and walkers from the Seddonville End. Its above the river, but theres a water hole for swimming on one of the side creeks. Bike hooks on the porch. I didnt linger.

Specimen Point - Seddonville
This was beautiful lovely singletrack along the river with swingbridges in place, not to cross a river but rather cross a spot they couldnt eke a track out of as the rock was vertical. Near the end is "County Hill" which is abit steeper than you've had lately but is relatively short. The track section itself was maybe 2 hours, but the bit from the trail end into Seddonville seemed to take forever.

Pub, Motel, Dairy (all in one). Theres a camping ground as well, and friends stayed at the old school house. I think all bookings are managed by the Pub.

Seddonville to Westport
I rode via Charming Creek Walkway which was lovely - turn left at the pub then follow the sign onto Charming Creek Rd. About a 10km gravel road climb with many false summits. Charming Creek Walkway itself was 11km, mostly downhill, an old Timber/Coal railway that ends at Ngakawau. After a while the sleepers get abit tiresome, but generally its stunning, river, tunnels, railway artefacts. *note oncoming traffic walkers & dogs*.
Then a 28km slog on the road with little of interest. Granity has a few cafes but I was probably too early, and also many things are closed on Monday and Tuesday. I got a pie at Waimangaroa. There was a couple of pubs in random locations as well if you were running later.

I was back in Westport by about midday and staying at the YHA which was busy but well-provisioned. Lots of accommodation options here - and I feel sorry for the town downturn caused by the collapse of the Coal companies. Good coffee at the gallery opposite the New World, but if you want to eat and loiter J's opposite the info centre is the go. The info centre has a super interesting museum in the back which I highly recommend if you're into your history.
I reckon if you're bluffing it you should be able to pick up a ride for yourself (if not bike) towards Murchison without issue. Enough backpackers come through and head in that direction.
Its probably a 45min drive from Westport to Lyell through the beautiful Buller Gorge. I got a ride :blush:

Pics next.
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Re: Old Ghost Road

Postby jo on Sun 3/Jan/16 1:04pm


Going up to Lyell Saddle

Tops section before Ghost Lake

Walking section before Ghost Lake

Skyline Ridge

Looking back towards Ghost Lake Hut (top right) you can see the switchbacks.

Stern Valley, with Lakes Grim and Cheerful

Mokihinui River and swingbridge, looking back towards Specimen Pt.

Charming Creek Walkway
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Re: Old Ghost Road

Postby znomit on Sun 3/Jan/16 1:34pm

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Re: Old Ghost Road

Postby mfw on Sun 3/Jan/16 1:49pm

Great ride blog Jo :thumbsup:
Defo on my list now :D
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Re: Old Ghost Road

Postby Velocipedestrian on Sun 3/Jan/16 3:03pm

Fab, Jo. That's got the mission juices flowing.
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Re: Old Ghost Road

Postby Greyway on Sun 3/Jan/16 3:33pm

Very good write up and information........ thanks Jo. Have my bed booked in early May for the OGR, as well as the Heaphy, probably QC after that then some Nelson rides.
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Re: Old Ghost Road

Postby Rik on Sun 3/Jan/16 3:40pm

I so wanted to do this before reading. I am desperate to do it now.

Thanks Jo. Added to the new years resolution list
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Re: Old Ghost Road

Postby Mansalmon on Sun 3/Jan/16 5:08pm

Awesome write up Jo, definitely adding this one to the 2016 list - it was already there, just jumped a few spots upwards!
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Re: Old Ghost Road

Postby Kazmeistyr on Thu 7/Jan/16 11:32am

I grew up in these parts, spent quite some time tramping and surveying with my Dad back in the day - I can't wait to ride this track!!
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