Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith announced funding of $800,000 for the Old Ghost Road cycle trail.
“The trail offers a journey back in time to the gold rush days of the 1860s and the long-forgotten settlements of Zalatown, Gibbstown, and remote farms that were abandoned after the 1929 magnitude 7.8 Murchison earthquake reshaped the land and limited access to the area,” Dr Smith says.
“This historic 80 kilometre dual biking and tramping trail follows historic gold miners’ roads from Lyell in the upper Buller Gorge and down the Mokihinui River to Seddonville. It opens up a backcountry conservation area that’s been difficult to access since the earthquake.
“Old Ghost Road is part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail, which showcases the very best of our landscape, environment, culture and heritage.”
An 88-metre swing bridge and eight kilometre section of track are the most recent additions to the trail, which is being developed by the Mokihinui-Lyell Backcountry Trust, in partnership with DOC and community and business groups.
The bridge extends across a main tributary of the Mokihinui River, while the completion of the track leading up to it means more than two thirds of the trail is now open.
“Earlier this year I opened a 26 kilometre section of the trail. Once fully complete, Old Ghost Road will offer a challenging multi-day ride or walk through some of our more remote backcountry, covering native forests, open tussock tops and isolated valleys with views of the spectacular Mokihinui Gorge,” Dr Smith says.
“There has been a huge commitment by volunteers to complete the 60 kilometres of track so far from the northern and southern ends. This additional funding from DOC of $800,000 is needed to enable the full track to be completed by March 2015.”