Sweet South Island Singletrack

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    Ride the Heaphy Track & Old Ghost Road with Huw Kingston

    In the latest version of his Sweet South Island Singletrack tour, join Huw Kingston on this mountain biking journey from Nelson to Christchurch. We’ll warm up on the trails around Nelson for a couple of days before riding two absolute classic overnight tours. Two days and one night on the Heaphy Track and then three days and two nights on the incomparable Old Ghost Road.  After all that enjoyment and exertion we’ll head to Hanmer Springs for some hot spring relaxation (and more singletrack of course!) before the tour finishes in Christchurch.  Comfortable twin share accommodation and mountain huts will be there at the end of each day as we rest up, reflect and refill.


    • Hosted by renowned Australian adventurer and mountain biking identity, Huw Kingston
    • MTB a “Great Walk” along the famous Heaphy Track
    • Follow in the tracks of the early pioneers and ride the exhilarating and historic Old Ghost Road
    • Overnight in the remote Ghost Lake Hut
    • Soak in the hot pools and enjoy New Zealand’s premier thermal resort in Hanmer Springs
    • One hell of a week’s mountain biking with some of the best Kiwi singletrack and touring on offer.


    Day 1 Nelson Dun Mountain Trails
    This morning the tour meets in central Nelson. We will be greeted by our special tour escort Huw Kingston, and meet our guide and fellow riders. If you are bringing your own bike, please make sure you have it assembled when we pick you up. If you are hiring a bike, there will be a chance to test and fit your hire bike. Starting from the edge of Nelson the trails wind their way through the Codgers Mountain Bike Park, where we have chance to test our bikes on some of the easy trails. We start climbing up along the alignment of New Zealand’s first railway (operating 1862-1901) up through pine forest, then thick native bush, over streams and past historical monuments before emerging into the alpine mineral belt near the summit of Dun Mountain. From Coppermine Saddle at 878m there are stunning views before taking a bermed single-track descent that drops for over 10km, emerging at the Maitai Dam. The last 10km of the ride follows the Maitai river on single-track cycle trail right back into the heart of Nelson. We settle into our accommodation and head for a beer and our first nights dinner. We will learn more about the itinerary for the week ahead and undoubtedly hear some of Huw’s entertaining stories. Cycling Distance: Dun Mountain Circuit – 38km (D)

    Day 2 Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park
    After a hearty breakfast, we drive 1 hour to Kaiteriteri, a small town which is the launch pad for adventures in the famous Abel Tasman National Park. This morning we’ll enjoy riding the Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park. With more than 25 trails weaving through both native forest and open terrain there’s something for every skill level. Some grunty climbs and flowing descents will give us panoramic views over the golden beaches and vivid blue sea below. In the afternoon we are free to continue riding, to relax, or to join another adventure activity. Options could include sea kayaking, paddling a traditional waka, canyoning or enjoying a hike on the Abel Tasman walkway.  Later we head to taste some local produce, Motueka is situated in premier hop growing country and a number of craft breweries have sprung up around the town. We’ll have dinner and talk through the logistics of tomorrow’s ride on the Heaphy Track and what to pack. (B, D)

    Day 3 Heaphy Track to James Mackay Hut
    We depart Motueka and head over Takaka Hill towards Collingwood in Golden Bay, the start of our next two days on the stunning Heaphy Track. We’ve got some climbing to do today but the views make it worth all the effort. Beginning at the eastern trail head at Brown Hut, the track zigzags through beech forest up to the Aorere Shelter where we can take a rest. Then we make a short detour to a view point called Flanagan’s Corner, which is the highest point of the track and gives impressive views over the Kahurangi and out to Golden Bay, on a clear day we can see the North Island. At Perry Saddle we pop out of the bush and sidle through patches of beech forest to reach Gouland Downs, a wide expanse of grasslands and tussock. We enjoy the views of the open tops, and a section of flatter riding as we cycle to James Mackay Hut, crossing a number of streams and passing some interesting limestone outcrops. Your guides will prepare a hearty alpine dinner as you settle in for the night. On a clear evening we’ll have views out to the Tasman Sea and Heaphy River mouth. Cycle Distance: Browns Hut to James Mackay Hut – 42km (B, L, D)

    Day 4 Heaphy Track to Seddonville
    Today, after breakfast, we descend off the plateau through beech trees and into more diverse west coast forest. We pass Lewis Hut and cross several bridges including NZ’s longest swing bridge, which spans the Lewis and Heaphy Rivers. As we approach the Heaphy Hut we have spectacular views of the river mouth, and the wild ocean framed by the iconic Nikau Palms and ancient Rata trees. The final spectacular leg of this trail takes us along the white sandy beaches interspersed with sections of beautiful bush. On reaching Scott’s Beach we have one last climb over Kohaihai Saddle before descending to the Kohaihai River and the end of todays ride. We load up the bikes and transfer to our comfortable accommodation in Seddonville. We will enjoy a warm bush shower and a hearty meal cooked by our hosts at the epic Rough and Tumble Lodge. Cycle Distance: James Mackay Hut to Kohaihai River – 37km (B, L, D)

    Day 5 Old Ghost Road to Ghost Lake
    This morning we drive to the start of our next three days on the stunning Old Ghost Road. Stretching 85km the Old Ghost Road mirrors the pathway of some 19th century tracks intended to connect gold fields in the Buller Gorge and the Mohikinui Valley. The route was never completed as the terrain was deemed too rugged. It was only opened in 2015 after years of modern engineering was able to drive a track through. Beginning at the southern trail head, the site of the gold-rush ghost town of Lyell, we’ll start to climb through beech forest. We follow an old dray road up to the Lyell Saddle Hut, passing 2 earthquake slips where an entire hillside fell away in 1929 and some rocky fords, we ascend 765m. The track steepens and climbs through the primeval bush to reach the open tops for dramatic views in all directions. Our narrow and rocky trail sidles across the face of Mt Montgomery, we pass the aptly named Heaven’s Door and descend through stunted alpine forest to reach Ghost Lake Hut. At 1200m above sea level in a stunning setting, it is the perfect point to ‘call it a day’. Once you get there, we think you’ll agree. We’ll enjoy a relaxed evening at the hut overlooking Ghost Lake and the surrounding mountain ranges. Cycling Distance: Lyell to Ghost Lake Hut – 30km (B, L, D)

    Day 6 Old Ghost Road to Specimen Point
    Today our ride descends rapidly from Ghost Lake through rock gardens with tight turns to reach the spectacular Skyline Ridge. We carry our bikes down the Skyline Steps before some fun, fast and sweeping singletrack into the Stern Valley. The trail continues to meander on through the Earnest Valley and zigzags up through a large boulder field named The Boneyard to Solemn Saddle. From here it’s on down to the confluence with the Mokihinui River South Branch and the old Goat Creek Hut. From Goat Creek, riders will wind their way through towering podocarp forest to the Mokihinui ‘Forks’ and then on to the Specimen Point Hut site 3km downstream towards at the head of Mokihinui River Gorge. We enjoy a second night on the Old Ghost Road in our cozy hut. Cycling Distance: Ghost Lake Hut to Specimen Point Hut – 38km (B, L, D)

    Day 7 Seddonville to Hanmer Springs
    From Specimen Point, the Mokihinui squeezes into a tight gorge and below us are rushing green waters and deep clear pools. The trail is an incredible construction, cut into the base of cliffs which at times arch over the track. Narrow swing bridges overhang massive drops and the old miners’ road is rejoined for the undulating ride through the spectacular Mokihinui River gorge to the end of the trail. At Seddonville we meet up with our transport, load up the bikes and have refreshments at the Rough & Tumble lodge. We then set off on our journey over the Lewis Pass to Hanmer Springs where there will be chance to have a soak in the thermal hot pools. Tonight we have our final group dinner to celebrate our week’s cycling adventure. Cycling Distance: Specimen Point Hut to Seddonville – 17km (B, D)

    Day 8 Hanmer Springs to Christchurch
    This morning there will be the option to ride some of the trails in the Hanmer forest. Graded from easy to advanced there is some fun singletrack for everyone. We then have a snack in one of the cafes in town and head back to Christchurch. (B)


    • 7 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 7 dinners
    • 3 nights hotel/motel accommodation on a twin or double share basis with ensuite facilities
    • 1 night lodge in quad share with ensuite facilties
    • 3 nights in remote backcountry hut with shared facilities
    • Experienced qualified mountain bike guide/driver
    • Private vehicle transport
    • One entry to Hanmer Springs Hot Pools
    • Water and snacks while cycling
    • Access and concession fees paid to the Department of Conservation and Old Ghost Road Trust


    Images courtesy of WorldExpeditions, Sandra Appleby