The Old Ghost Road

 (Jason Blair)
In the hills between the mouth of the Mokihinui River and the site of Lyell, a gold rush ghost town in the Upper Buller Gorge, there is something quite remarkable happening. A track is being hewn from wilderness itself, traversing incredible terrain, to create a unique backcountry experience for those of the two-wheeled, pedal-powered, knobbly tyre persuasion. It’s a feat of laborious toil – begun by miners of yore with a dream of connecting distant goldfields, and approaching completion by a modern band of merry volunteers. The old timers surely didn’t foresee the high-technology steeds of the 21st century glinting and spinning their way over the same hills they dug in with pick and shovel. Much less would they have imagined that their work would be completed with the assistance of helicopters, motorbikes, explosives, and such. Plenty of hand-blistering manual labour still required, mind you. Imagine you brought one of the prospectors of the gold-rush to visit 2015 and showed them Ghost Lake Hut, perched atop a bluff in the Lyell Range. They’d probably scoff at the extravagance, but happily enjoy the comfort and admire the gumption of those who had the vision, and the wherewithal to see it become reality.

 (Jason Blair)

I’ve had the pleasure of flying in to Ghost Lake twice now, and ridden the great majority of the track so-far in existence (albeit with a heavy load of camera-gear for most of it). I have to say that any misgivings I harboured about the concept have proven thoroughly misplaced. This is a world-class trail, and it exists due to the dogged determination and hard work of the trust and their volunteers. Have a look through this slideshow of images from the track to whet your appetite for back-country adventure riding. Then get on your bike and ride it for yourself.

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