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An Escape to the Mainland - Bikepacking the Old Ghost Road

Bikepacking -

An Escape to the Mainland - Bikepacking the Old Ghost Road

After making countless bags for riders going to ride the Old Ghost Road I thought I better go see what it was all about. After a few quick messages, master of the bike, Diggle said he was keen and able to take the time off to come with me. 
On the boat
An uneventful ferry trip across the straight and then we were on the mainland. After filling our bellies with greasy burgers in Murchison we got into the cold tent in Lyell and rested up for a big day ahead. 

First break
 The morning started with a long climb, all the way up to Lyell Hut for lunch. The track was great. Good gradient, nice terrain and great views. 
Lyell Hut
Lyell Hut
There was more climbing after lunch but after about 30 minutes we came to a clearing in the trees with an awe inspiring view over the valley. 
Another great view
Another 30 minutes or so and we were out of the trees and at the top!
Out of the trees
A short chunky descent (this is the part that they call Grade 5 I believe) down to Heavens Door.
Pristine singletrack
The grade 5 section, certainly a steep drop down
Heavens Door - The Old Ghost Road
Sign says it all
With hindsight I think the top portion of the track is Grade 5 mainly because you spend most of your time looking at the amazing views rather than focusing on your riding. 
Panorama - Old Ghost Road
From Rocky Tor it was about 30 minutes riding down to Ghost Lake Hut, our stop for the night. 

The view from Ghost Lake Hut, Murchison in the distance
Ghost Lake Hut is probably my favorite hut to date. Even though it was only built a few years ago it already has that old hut charm. It's well equipped with crockery and utensils so all you need to bring is food and a cooker. There was plenty of firewood too keep us warm all night, really it was almost too warm!
Downhill - Old Ghost Road
Although all night we dreamed of clear skies and dry trail that morning we woke to rain. It turns out it didn't matter at all. The descent was great. The rocks were still grippy and there wasn't too much mud to fight with. 
Downhill - Old Ghost Road
After leaving Ghost Lake Hut and riding past Ghost Lake you enter a series of dreamy switchbacks heading downhill. If you didn't know it you would think you were in the European Alps.
Old Ghost Road Switchbacks
Old Ghost Road Switchbacks
After what seemed like a solid hour and a half descending we made it to Stern Valley Hut. A hut perched right beside a alpine river surrounded by huge trees. Second breakfast warmed us up and prepared us for the climb up the Boneyard.
Mokihinui River
The top end of the Mokihinui River (I think)
Swollen River
By now it had been raining substantially for a while, this is just a side stream.
Swollen River
After a long lunch and  quick warm up by the fire at Specimen Point Hut it was back out onto the track, or what was now pretty much a stream. From here to Seddonville the track follows the Mokihinui river, sometimes getting very narrow with steep drops down to the river (which was now a raging torrent). 
Side Creek
A 'side' creek taking over the track
Swollen Stream
After about two hours and too many stream crossings to count we made it to the Seddonville Hotel. If you're passing through Seddonville make sure you stop at the hotel. Graeme's hospitality is second to none and the food and drinks are just what you need after a long wet day riding.
Seddonville Hotel
Keep your eyes peeled for part two - The Heaphy Track.