Navigating the Old Ghost Road: New Zealand’s Longest Singletrack – Day 01

Europe is blessed with ripping trails, from the seas to the tops of the alps. Many of these trails began as footpaths, or cattle trails, or even military roads, traversing mountains, connecting towns or other trade routes. New Zealand, however, had very little need for such intricate trail networking. Being an island, it was easier to go around the mountains, than over them, even in colonial times.

However, if anything can motivate man, it’s gold.

Which is why and how some of the first mountain trails were made in this country. The path we rode on the Stigmata the day before, the Charming Creek Trail, was the beginning of a network of mining rail lines, which stopped just before our home base for the remainder of the trip, the Rough and Tumble Bush Lodge.

With promises of a full day on the bike, for the first time on the trip, we all awoke, ready to ride.

The lodge is at the base of another trail and serves as both a hiking or cycling destination, as well as a hunting lodge, or volunteer base for the Old Ghost Road. The OGR is made up of two mining trail systems, connected by still under construction singletrack. This new track goes through river valleys, traverses mountains and snakes its way through dense, rich rainforests. As the longest singletrack in New Zealand, it covers a cross-section of ecosystems and offers some of the best vignettes into this incredible land.

Tour guides, bringers of the stoke and partners in picking lines, Sven and Anka Martin would accompany us on the trail.

We would be taking on the OGR in two doses, mostly in the interest of time – as media launches tend to go very slowly with photos and such – but also to give us all a chance to really soak in the landscape. Sven and Anka Martin from HouseMartin had laid out a great 48 hours on the bike, perfect testing ground for Santa Cruz’s Highball mountain bikes.

My ride for the day. Santa Cruz Highball CC 29r, size XL, with the Porcelain Rocket Sally bag, stuffed with food and a down jacket.

Our bike for the first day, the ever so zippy Highball CC 29r, was right at home and for my own purposes, I found it to be a worthy companion to transport myself and my camera gear along this very scenic and moderately easy trail… Who am I kidding? That last climb and its condition sucked!

Check out day 01 from our ride along the Old Ghost Road in the Gallery!

  • geoff.tewierik

    Impressive collection of photos John, nice work.

    • John Watson

      thank you dude!

  • C.Silver

    Great recap, stunning photos! Thanks for sharing.

  • interpedalers

    What a challenging life you have. This place looks amazing!

  • Ultraclyde

    Everyone has their own vision of what Heaven may look like. Apparently, If I’m good, when I die I’ll go to New Zealand. Wow.

  • Daniel Madden

    I really need to make it across the ditch sometime, damn.

  • colavitos_ghost

    so cool.

    just curious: were you treating your water, or drinking untreated water straight from the stream?

    • colavitos_ghost

      DERP! just read the captions…. nevermind :|

      (i’m surprised the streams are safe to drink from; no feral mammals or nuthin’)