The Old Ghost Road is the most spectacular and wild of all the cycle trails. From the ghost town of Lyell, deep in the Buller Gorge, it climbs steadily through native forest on a mining trail built in the 1870s. You will sweat your way past massive slips and archaeological sites, up to the stunted forest of the tree line, before breaking out onto what feels like the top of the world. The endless views stop you in your tracks, demanding to be admired —on a fine day. On a bad day, you’ll cower from the elements, reaching for every layer of clothing you have brought, because a storm on the Lyell tops is a powerful experience.
Beyond Ghost Lake, a 21-kilometre trail to Goat Creek Hut has been marked out, but has yet to be formed at the time of writing. Plans are for it to be upgraded to a rideable trail in 2014–15, but you should check the trail website for an update before assuming this middle section is ready for bikes. Until it is finished, the best options are there-and-back trips from either end of the Old Ghost Road.
From the northern end, at Seddonville, a historic trail heads up the Mokihinui Gorge, and in places is carved out of sheer rock face. It is every bit as stunning as the Lyell end, but a lot less hilly. The first 18 kilometres of the trail passes old mining ghost towns, almost completely reclaimed by the forest. From the Mokihinui Forks, the trail is brand new and weaves up the broad South Mokihinui Valley to Goat Creek Hut.