Backpackers walk across the verdant grasslands of New Zealand.
Camera Kaylin Colby

Backpacking New Zealand's Old Ghost Road - Alumni


6 days


18+ yrs



See Dates

Join NOLS on one of New Zealand’s great unknown walks, the Old Ghost Road. This 50-mile hut-to-hut route winds its way through the Kahurangi National Park in the northwest corner of New Zealand’s southern island. Following an old gold miner’s trail this trek combines physical challenge, an exploration of the region’s history, and appreciation for New Zealand’s rich biodiversity and exceptional birding.  

Photo Credit: Holly Beeman

We will begin the trip in Nelson, New Zealand shaking off our jet lag with an evening orientation. The next morning we’ll head to the nearby NOLS Campus to pick up gear and pack our packs. A short drive will drop us at the trailhead where we will step into the bush and begin what the locals call “tramping” to our first hut. 

Small rustic huts, rather than tents, will provide shelter in between hiking days as you explore the fabled trails of the park. The huts along the trek are casual and communal.

Photo Credit: David Summers 

The first section of our hike follows the ridge of the Lyell Range which boasts fantastic views of sculpted volcanic mountain peaks and valleys. Expect some good climbs during this section of the hike! We will venture into alpine zones, crossing tussock covered hill tops and mingling with the clouds. 

Photo Credit: Jason Ort

In the evenings, we will rest our legs or set out on optional side hikes in the area. We will enjoy each other’s company around a shared meal and possibly share the huts’ communal space with other travelers on our route.

After a well earned rest day, we will leave the ridge and descend toward the Mokihinui river.

Photo Credit: Holly Beeman

Participants on this trip will get exposure to a wide range of Kahurangi National Park’s biodiversity. Dense Beech tree forests line the trail and provide habitat for a wide variety of orchids nestling at tree bases. These forests are also home to a stunning array of birds including cuckoos, the flightless weka, kaka, black swans, pukeko, and even kiwi birds. A keen eye and keen ear may help you spot a few.

Photo Credit: Jason Ort

Steady year round rainfall feeds the abundant natural life in this region. Be prepared to break out your rain layers! Daily mileage will vary, but expect significant elevation gain and loss over our trek and more than a few stream and river crossings. As we navigate this terrain together, we’ll have time to refresh our hiking, map-reading, and leadership skills.

Photo Credit: Holly Beeman

We love this well developed hut-to-hut hiking area because it helps keep pack weight down. Leaving tents and kitchen needs behind is luxurious but packs are still robust as all participants carry a full load as food and other daily living supplies will be the responsibility of the team.

Photo Credit: Jason Ort

The trip will conclude back at the NOLS Campus with a celebration dinner and festivities. We hope that you can spend some additional time exploring the island after the trip!

Overall Difficulty*:

*Rustic hut living means lighter backpacks but the trail is challenging.

Course Dates

1 course

Feb 20 - 25, 2025


Backpacking in New Zealand Media


If you have questions about enrollment or including families/guests on a particular alumni trip, then contact:

NOLS Alumni Department

Other Alumni Courses