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Going guided: The Old Ghost Road

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June 2020 Issue

There are unforgettable memories to be made on the once-forgotten miners’ path of the Old Ghost Road.

History, sleepouts, open tops and gourmet food – there’s a lot to love about a guided trip on New Zealand’s newest classic walk, the Old Ghost Road.

Though he’s now walked the 85km track 30 times since its opening in 2015, Southern Wilderness managing director and guide Angus McKenzie says he’s still exploring its secrets.

“I just love it,” he says. “It’s relatively new for me, and I feel like I am just starting to get to know it, but every time it's very special.”

A big part of guiding, he says, is in getting people to slow down to appreciate its charms.

“People tend to walk through and try to get to the hut at the end of the day, without stopping to look at the little things on the side of the track,” he says – and on the Old Ghost Road, walkers are spoiled for choice.

A rich mining history still bears its marks on the landscape, and recovering flora and fauna keep things interesting.

“There are traps through a lot of the track, so you’ve got whio in the river valleys, you occasionally hear kiwi at night, and walking up on that first day, you go through one of the best birdlife areas I’ve seen,” McKenzie says.

At the end of the day, clients are treated to their choice of huts or private sleepouts and a gourmet tramping meal.

“We’re pretty locked and loaded up there – for dinner you might get something like smoked cheese polenta with confit duck, and roast vegetables, all carried in by the guides,” he says. 

Tramper Trish Bartleet has enjoyed three trips with Southern Wilderness, including the Old Ghost Road.

“I’ve done most of the major walks in New Zealand, mostly on my own, and there’s no doubt that the guided and catered walks are my favourites,” she says.

Aside from the food and scenery, Bartleet says the best aspect of guided trips is that they feel like ‘a  true holiday’.

“You are still walking and carrying your own pack, so you don’t feel like you’re cheating too much,” she says. “I’m in my 60s, and for those long tramps you need all of your endurance just to actually do it.” 

Where Buller, West Coast
Who Southern Wilderness, www.southernwilderness.com
When October-May
Duration Five days
Price $1995