• 7 day mountain bike
  • 3 nights hotel/motel
  • 2 nights lodge
  • 1 night remote backcountry hut
  • 6 Dinners
  • 3 Lunches
  • 6 Breakfasts

7 Days$NZD

Trip Code: SOG6742

Trip highlights

  • Hosted by renowned Australian adventurer and mountain biking identity, Huw Kingston
  • Follow in the tracks of the early pioneers and ride the exhilarating and historic Old Ghost Road
  • Overnight in the remote Ghost Lake Hut
  • Ride the St James Trail through scenery of mountain peaks, high country lakes, alpine meadows and subalpine beech forest
  • 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.

In the latest version of his Sweet South Island Singletrack tour, join Huw Kingston on this mountain biking journey from east to west and back again.

We’ll warm up on the trails around Christchurch then head out to ride and explore the trails of the Craigieburn forests before riding the incomparable Old Ghost Road. We spend two days and one nights on the trail riding, exploring and enjoying every metre of hand built mountain bike trail magic.

After all that enjoyment and exertion we'll head to Hanmer Springs for some hot spring relaxation (and more singletrack of course!) riding the St James trail 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.

Your mountain biking adventure begins with a journey westwards across the vast Canterbury Plains and over Porters Pass which is a fitting introduction to the Craigieburn Mountains where our first ride awaits. You’ll be rewarded with fantastic views over the surrounding valleys and mountains from the many trail options including the Hog’s Back, Luge, the Edge, Dracophyllum flat and Dicksons Downhill tracks. We stay the night at Forest Lodge where we enjoy a communal dinner and learn more about the itinerary for the week ahead and undoubtedly hear some of Huw's entertaining stories. Note: If you are bringing your own bike, please make sure you have it assembled and ready when we pick you up. Cycling distance: Up to 50km

Meals:  D

After breakfast we load up and drive across the Southern Alps via Arthur’s Pass to the small township of Reefton. Its a 3 hour drive, but puts us in a good position to get started early on the Old Ghost Road tomorrow. Reefton has a network of old mining trails, 4WD roads, and single track which take you to a variety of historic mine sites and remote river valleys. We enjoy an evening meal and a well-deserved beer in the local pub, where we have a briefing about the logistics of the Old Ghost Road. Cycling distance: Up to 40km

Meals:  B,D

First up we have a short drive to the start of our next two 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

Meals:  B,L,D

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. Here 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 to the end of the trail. We overnight at the comfortable Rough & Tumble lodge, enjoying fine homemade food and beer. Cycling Distance: Ghost Lake Hut to Rough & Tumble - 55km

Meals:  B,L,D

After a relaxed breakfast we set off for the historic gold mining town and trails of Reefton. Kiwi mountain bike journalists the Kennett Bros once quoted: “For a mountain bike hub, you can’t beat Reefton.” With 15 named cycle trails in the area varying in length and difficulty, this couldn’t be more true. Mountain biking in Reefton will certainly give you a dose of wilderness riding through luxuriant beech forests but offers a historic twist. Ride along old tram lines and pack tracks formed by New Zealand’s early adventurers. Along the way, you’re bound to come across old mining sites and the remains of huge machinery and structures once used to extract gold. Starting from Blacks Point we climb up the historic road to Waitahu Saddle. It’s an open trail featuring a mix of 4×4 and single track where we meet with the Ajax Track leading to the historic Ajax stamper mine. From here we take on the technical Machine Track back towards town and an optional visit to the award winning Reefton Distilling Company. In the afternoon we continue our journey over the Lewis Pass to the thermal resort of Hanmer Springs (a drive of around 2 hours) In the early evening there will be an option to check out the thermal pools for a soak, or head to the pub before dinner. Cycling Distance: Waitahu Saddle/Ajax trails - approx 30-40km

Meals:  B,D

We set off driving for around 1 hour to the start of the St James Trail. We’ll have a simple camp breakfast and coffee at the trailhead before we leave. The first of New Zealand’s Great Rides to open, this fantastic trail passes through the iconic St James Station. The 59km trail offers a mix of riding grades through stunning and diverse scenery, including soaring mountain peaks, crystal clear rivers, high country lakes, alpine meadows, sub-alpine beech forest and expansive grassy river flats. After an easy ride over the Maling Pass we ride a great descent through native beech forest to the Waiau River valley. We follow a well formed trail through the tussock grass and wildflowers of the valley. From here we’ve got some ups and tricky descents to navigate. Make sure you keep an eye out for the St James wild horses. From McArthurs Bridge we climb up to Peters Pass (our last up for the day). We descend and meet our transport for the short drive back to Hanmer Springs. We’ll all enjoy a good soak in the hot pools before heading out for a final celebration dinner. Cycling Distance: St James Trail - 59km

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning will be a relaxed start and there will be the option to ride the trails in the Hanmer forest. A cross-country loop offers a mix of native and plantation forest, taking in the the newly completed ‘Tombstone’ track, which has been lovingly handcrafted over the last 5 years. This advanced single-track with 185m of climbing provides stunning views from the highest point (698m) followed by a thrilling 240m descent with multiple twists, turns and drops. Look out for the great wood signage on the trail. If time we'll have a final soak in the hot pools before a snack in one of the cafes in town and then head back to Christchurch. Riders can be dropped off at the airport or taken to our central Christchurch drop off point at Cathedral Junction. We can expect to be in Christchurch around 4pm. Cycling Distance: Hanmer Forest Tracks - Up to 25km

Meals:  B


  • Healthy, plentiful and enjoyable meals (6 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 6 dinners)
  • 3 nights hotel/motel accommodation on a twin or double share basis with ensuite facilities
  • 2 nights lodge in quad share with shared facilities
  • 1 night 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
  • New Zealand Goods and Services Tax (GST)

  • International or domestic flights and taxes
  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • All beverages, other than breakfast
  • Mountain bike hire
  • Water bottle (help us save the environment and bring your own standard bike drink bottle or hydration system)
  • Optional activities not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Personal expenses (eg. phone calls, internet, laundry, shopping etc)
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa (if required)

About Your Leader

With a passion for the great outdoors, Huw Kingston has spent the last 30 years undertaking long human powered journeys in wild places across the world. He has numerous awards to his name including the Australian Geographic Spirit of Adventure Award and was named one of Time Magazine's 25 Worldwide Responsibility Pioneers following his campaign against bottled water and plastic waste. Huw is also ambassador for Save the Children Australia and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He is the author of numerous adventure and travel articles and has organised MTB events and tours for over two decades.


Bike information



The Sweet South Island Singletrack Adventure is graded challenging. You will need a very good level of fitness and some technical mountain bike skills both ascending and descending. Although the tour is fully supported there are 3 days of the tour where there is no vehicle access and you must be comfortable riding 6-8 hours per day in all weather conditions. We are not looking for skills in jumping gaps, drops or features but you do need to be comfortable riding single track which will be rocky, sandy, muddy, rooty or a combination.

Departure dates


Base Price

Want to organise a private group?

Fundraising events, sporting groups, family treats; learn how you can organise a Private Group from just 6 travellers.

Priceper person from


Options & Supplements*
  • Single Supplement - 3 nightsNZD$375
*Prices listed are per person

Essential information

Ready to book? Make sure you download and read the detailed Sweet South Island Singletrack - March 2023 trip notes which contains all the essential information you need to know before booking. Once you’ve booked, we will supply you with a Pre-Departure document which contains a detailed gear list and other important information to help you prepare for your adventure ahead.

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