Old Relics on the Old Ghost Trail – Part One

“On a Mish” #276 Old Relics on the Old Ghost Road (Special Guest Post) – Part One. Lyell Range. 30.4.2021. This is a story submitted by NzHikes biggest fan / editor. The same person and her husband are 100% responsible for my sense of adventure and providing the motivation that would spawn www.NzHikes.co.nz Join Julie & Jeremy as they take on the challenge of The Old Ghost Road… I’m one of those people who like to think they are the outdoors type, but in reality, to date, all my multi-day tramps have come complete with electricity and a hot shower at the end of each day. So The Old Ghost Road was new territory for me, in more ways than one. This 85km trail winds its way through remote valleys, mountain tops and river gorges on the magnificent, and largely unspoilt, West Coast of the South Island…

It’s a combined walking and mountain bike track which can be started from either end. This means that each hut brings with it a change of faces, unlike most of the trips I’ve done where the people you set out with are usually the ones you continue to see throughout the walk. There were four in our little party – all on the wrong side of 60 and none having taken part in a walk of this length before, or at least not for many years. So we all approached the five night, four day walk with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation. Day one started from Lyell car park and took us on a steady 18 km climb up through some beautiful Beech forest to our first night at Lyell Saddle Hut. This was when I realised that I should have checked the website more closely. No showers and no power was a bit of a shock to this cosseted baby boomer! On the plus side, the composting toilets on the track are so much nicer than the traditional long-drop –the only smell is from the sawdust. A relatively sleepless night with no pillow made me grateful that day two was only 12km. This consisted of 6 km of graded climbing through cloud forest up to the tussock tops of the Lyell Range followed by 6 km of relatively level open-tops travel to Ghost Lake and the stunning Ghost Lake Hut. We were blessed with uncharacteristically dry weather for our entire trip but, unfortunately for us this was a misty day. So we could only imagine the spectacular views along the way, particularly those at Heaven’s Gate, which apparently are awe inspiring. The odd shift in the clouds made for tantalising, but unfortunately very short, glimpses of what we were missing. Night two was a sociable one in the larger Ghost Lake Hut.

Obviously the weather had changed during the night because, when I fought my way out of my sleeping bag to negotiate the trip to the loo in the ‘wee’ small hours, I was met with a majestic, still night sky which hinted at much more interesting views come morning. Daylight was even more of a revelation than I could have imagined. The view from our 4-person summer shelter was absolutely jaw dropping and one of the best I have ever seen in my life! It literally felt like we were on top of the world as we took in sweeping vistas across almost endless forest, ending with the most expansive view of the distant Southern Alps that I have ever seen. When we set off on what promised to be the easiest day of the walk, we started to get a better idea of why the views from our hut were so panoramic – the bloody thing was basically perched on the edge of an enormous bluff! Probably a good thing for the height phobic among us that we had arrived in mist the night before…

Above the Cloud at Ghost Lake Hut

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

Subscribe To my newsletter