Moderate to Challenging

Traveller Rating


  • self-guided walk
  • 1 night motel, 4 nights private hut
  • 4 Dinners
  • 4 Breakfasts


6 daysfrom


Trip Code: GOG

Trip highlights

  • Walk in the footsteps of early gold miners along the route of an 1870's prospecting road
  • Learn something about the heritage of the region from the many snippets of information along the trail
  • Traverse alpine plateau with expansive wilderness vistas
  • Cross remote valleys and follow spectacular river gorges
  • Marvel at the geological processes that have formed such rugged terrain
  • Stay in well-appointed huts shared with fellow adventurers

The rugged west coast of New Zealand's South Island has attracted the hardiest of folk for many decades. Not least were those seeking their fortune in the 1870's prospecting for gold. Between the mighty Buller River and the raging Mokihinui River to its north, miners forged a route looking for the precious mineral, establishing several small villages and even smaller encampments along the way. Little remains of those today but the scattering of old tools and mining artefacts along the present day Old Ghost Road, which follows the path of those pioneering folk, is a reminder of activities long gone. Crossing remote valleys, deep river gorges and alpine plateau the track passes through dense forest and incredibly wild country, evoking the spirit of those early miners and offering a glimpse into their remarkable lives. A full pack walk, staying in well-equipped private huts, this trip is beautiful, diverse, rugged, inspiring and rewarding all in one.


Make your own way to Westport on the west coast and check-in to your trip accommodation any time after 2:00pm. You should allow enough time to purchase your lunch and snack supplies for the next three days. There are conveniently located supermarkets in Westport that are usually open until about 8:00pm daily. Your meal pack with breakfasts and dinners for the walk, plus accessories, will be waiting for you at the accommodation.

Meals:  Nil

Meet your shuttle vehicle this morning and transfer to Lyell car park and campground, the southern trailhead for the Old Ghost Road. The journey takes about an hour and is via the spectacular Buller Gorge, setting the scene for the rugged wilderness environment in which you are soon to be immersed. Begin walking from the carpark, the site of a once thriving town servicing goldfields along the Lyell Creek in the late 1800's. The track initially follows the route of an old dray road built in the 1880's to access numerous satellite villages that sprang up further into the catchment area and closer to the mining action. Today, climbing gradually upwards through lush beech forest, a few scattered relics are all that remain of life during the gold rush era. With occasional glimpses of deep river valleys and corrugated escarpments stretching to the horizon, it is easy to imagine the challenges faced by those early pioneers. Negotiate "The Big Slips" before arriving at Lyell Saddle Hut, a welcome end to today's climb.

Meals:  D

Enjoy a more leisurely start this morning after yesterday's exertion. There is more uphill for the first half of the day, however, with the track weaving back and forth on a steady ascent to the open tops of the Lyell Range. Beech forest gives way to alpine scrub with patches of manuka and pineapple scrub, turning into tussockland at the edge of the treeline. From here the hard work is done as the second half of the day is reasonably level walking across open tops. Take your time to soak in the view as there are multiple scenic stopping points and too many panoramas to photograph. Take a break beneath Rocky Tor at the highest point on the trail (1330m) before continuing to Ghost Lake Hut for the evening. Perched on the edge of an escarpment, the location is beyond incredible and for many, an evening spent here is a highlight of the trip. Note: for extremely fit walkers who are short on time, this day can be combined with tomorrow's walk. In that case, there is no overnight stop at Ghost Lake Hut and the destination for tonight is Stern Valley Hut, making the total distance today 25km / 6 - 9 hrs.

Meals:  B,D

Linger a while to enjoy the magic of early morning mist, reflections in the tiny lake and the spectacular setting of Ghost Lake Hut. Tomorrow is a long day so make the most of some extra rest today. Enjoy some ridge walking with more fabulous views of endless wilderness plus two steep descents that will have you wondering how anyone can ride a bike down there. The 'Skyline Steps' are an impressive piece of track construction and add some exciting diversity to the trail. The resting point for tonight is in the valley beside Stern Creek, some 800m lower in altitude than where you started this morning. If you sit quietly by the creek you may be lucky enough to see a rare Blue Duck (whio) foraging for food.

Meals:  B,D

It is best to start early today as it is a long but rewarding walk. Pass through the unusual open meadows of the Stern Creek catchment between Lakes Grim and Cheerful. Take on the persona of either, depending whether you look at the trail ahead or behind you! Moving forwards a series of switch backs climb upwards through the ‘Boneyard’, a barren, exposed section of track crossing an area of pale coloured rocks from a land slip. Cross a forested saddle then drop down through rocky crags to scrub and grass covered valleys. Historic Goat Creek Hut affords a short side trip for those who are keen. Enjoy relatively flat walking from here through beautiful podocarp forest to the fork of the Mokihinui River where it's southern and northern branches join. A little further along Specimen Point Hut is a very welcome sight to mark the end of a day of diverse scenery and terrain. Formerly the site of another gold prospecting settlement, the hut is strategically located with views of the magnificent Mokihinui River Gorge.

Meals:  B,D

The final day on the trail covers undulating terrain for the length of the Mokihinui Gorge. Hugging the river bank, the track follows an old mining route. Historic relics and the site of a former town once again remind you of the hardy folk who set up a life searching for gold in almost impossible terrain. Dramatic views of the river far below and the roar of the water pouring through the gorge turn to serenity and awe as the gorge and river widen to level with the track at Welcome Bay, the northern trailhead for the Old Ghost Road. Your shuttle transfer will meet you here mid morning and transfer you to Westport (1 hour drive), seemingly a world away from the headiness of a remote wilderness adventure. Alternatively, your car will be waiting here for you to collect and drive away in your own time. (Keys are stored in a secure lock box). This trailhead is often generically referred to as Seddonville, after the village of that name located 4km away. NOTE: If using the transfer shuttle it departs around mid morning from Welcome Bay (exact time will be confirmed upon booking). Alternatively, a private shuttle can be arranged later in the afternoon (additional cost applies). If you prefer to take your time today, stay at Rough and tumble lodge (advance booking required, additional cost applies) at the end of your trail. The lodge is right at the trailhead, you can then take the shuttle to Westport the following morning.

Meals:  B



The map and elevation chart are for illustrative purposes only and meant to provide general guidelines.
On self guided trips, actual route information provided before departure will be more detailed.


  • 1 night motel accommodation in Westport (twinshare) with private bathroom
  • 4 nights Old Ghost Road hut in multishare bunk rooms with shared kitchen and outside toilet
  • 4 breakfasts, 4 dinners (Radix Nutrition meals)
  • Hot drinks pack including tea/coffee/hot chocolate
  • Drinking water (available from Old Ghost Road huts)
  • Rubbish bag, toilet paper
  • Route notes and map
  • Vehicle relocation between trailheads if self-driving (note that special conditions apply to rental vehicles)
  • Return shared transfers from Westport to trailheads (minimum 2 pax; additional cost applies for 1 person only)
  • Old Ghost Road hut and trail usage fees paid to MLBT (Mokihinui-Lyell Backcountry Trust)
  • Personal Locator Beacon (to be returned at end of trip)

  • Travel to Westport on Day 1 and from trailhead after trip arrangements end on Day 6
  • Drinks other than water, tea/coffee/hot chocolate - good drinking water is available at each night's accommodation
  • Hiking pack & sleeping bag (there are limited numbers of these available for hire; please request in advance)
  • Additional cost for private transfers from Westport to/from trailheads (note that private transfers may be required if there are insufficient people travelling on any given date to enable a shared transfer)
  • Additional cost if you require a combination of shuttle transfer to one trailhead and vehicle relocate to another
  • Optional activities, extras and upgrades
  • Items of a personal nature (eg. laundry, shopping, internet)
  • Excess luggage storage (can be arranged at Westport for a small fee)
  • Mug/cup, bowl, cutlery, cooking pots are all provided in the hut kitchens; you may bring your own if you prefer
  • Car parking in Westport

Trail Surface



Moderate to Challenging  

MODERATE TO CHALLENGING - GRADE 6 This trip grading involves a combination of what is described in our MODERATE and CHALLENGING levels. The emphasis is on moderate activity with several challenging stages. Expect to walk up to 6 hrs a day, with possibility of up to 9hrs on one or two days. You will need a good to excellent level of fitness and must be in good health. Treks may involve carrying a full pack around 15 - 20kg. Be prepared for potential variable weather conditions. Suggested preparation: We recommend one hour of aerobic type exercise, four times a week. This can include swimming, jogging, hard walking or cycling. Day walking, including hills and/or stairs with a pack in variable weather conditions is also recommended at least once a week.

Departure dates

Daily departures year round


Private transfers to/from trailheads can be arranged. Additional cost applies in all cases.
For an additional cost, private sleep outs are available (2 x double mattresses, sleep 1-4) Summer only.
We recommend minimum 2 people for this trip for safety reasons. However, solo travellers with good hiking experience in remote areas with changeable weather will find it achievable.

Want to organise a customised tour?

School groups, friends, family trips, corporate events and even making the trail accessible for everyone. Learn how you can organise a Customised Tour with Great Walks of New Zealand.

Priceper person from


Options & Supplements*
  • Excess luggage storage- per pieceNZD$11
  • private sleepouts (2-4 People) - singles ask for rateNZD$45
  • Sleeping bag hireNZD$50
  • Backpack hire size 50 - 75LNZD$50
  • Solo Traveller SurchargeNZD$270
  • Rough and Tumble Lodge with dinner, singleNZD$280
  • Rough and Tumble Lodge with dinner, 2 peopleNZD$340
*Prices listed are per person and also from

Essential Information

Ready to book? Make sure you download and read the detailed Old Ghost Road Self-Guided Hike trip notes which contains all the essential information you need to know before booking. Once you’ve booked, we will supply you with a Pre-Departure document which contains a detailed gear list and other important information to help you prepare for your adventure ahead.

Trip reviews

Why walk with us

Self-Guided Experts

Our itineraries have been carefully designed and researched with you in mind.  The logistics are handled for you allowing you the freedom to walk New Zealand at a level of your choosing and in your own stride.


A core Maori value exercising guardianship in relation to nature, flora and fauna and its people, ensuring that sustainability and environment are valued, respected and protected for future generations to enjoy.

Supporting Local

As a small business ourselves, we love supporting and sharing New Zealand with other small and likeminded businesses and communities to showcase for you, what our land and people have to offer.

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