I got on the bus at 7.30am this morning, and enjoyed a beautiful and informative Westward journey through the Buller gorge to Westport, then Seddonville. Along the way I passed places I’d been before… notably the place where my family and I did the flying fox in ‘superman pants’ 12 years ago and Lyell campsite (my end destination on this walk), where I’d parked up in my van overnight one night many years ago.
I started the trail at 12.30pm. The Old Ghost Road is hailed as the best backcountry mountain bike trail in NZ, and has received worldwide acclaim. It’s origins are from the 1880s when tracks were built to connect goldfields in the Mokihinui and Lyell areas, these restored tracks now link with a brand new connecting ‘mid section’ which was built by volunteers. It opened in 2015.
It was a bright sunny day but not too hot. The trail started in beech forest next to the Mokihinui river and followed the river gorge all the way up to a fork where two branches of the river meet. The track itself was really nice, well formed, stony/gravel, single lane and the views of the river below were amazing. The larger rivers off to the side were bridged with a couple of little creeks unbridged. I heard and saw more birds here than I have for a long time including weka, robins, tuis, tomtits and kereru (big fat native wood pigeons – not flying rats like other pigeons). There was also a multitude of wasps and sandflies, just like on the Pelorous river track a month ago!
I walked the first 17kms to the Specimen Point hut, then continued on 11kms to the Goat Creek hut. Along the second section I passed by a very large freshwater spring, bubbling out of the ground. Along the way I met a nice couple of gentlemen maintaing the track and had a lovely chat with Patrick, which felt like it should have been over a beer or two, rather than a sandfly infested track.
I arrived at Goat Creek hut around 7.30pm. The 4 bed hut was built in the 1950s and very basic – but lovely. I had it all to myself. It didn’t have a water tap, but it did have a large saucepan, so I filled it from the stream, then washed and organised my dinner. By the time it was dark all the wasps had vacated the toilet, so I was able to use it ??
Just as I went to bed I noticed two things:
– A large spider very close to my head. I switched ends of the bed to avoid him.
– A little mouse in the fireplace, looking at me. I had hung up my food bag already, but is worried it might still be mouse-acessible, should he turn out to be acrobatically gifted!