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Ghost with io

May 29, 2024 4 min read

Ghost with io

When South Aussie trail runner Claire headed off to the land of the long white cloud (and heaps of amazing trails) AKA New Zealand to run the Old Ghost Ultra, we asked her to tell us a bit about it. Here's what she had to say:

The Old Ghost Road has an origin story spanning back to the 1870s when gold miners envisaged a road connecting gold fields at Lyell on the Buller River with potential gold fields in the Mōkihinui to the north. Fast forward to 2007 and the discovery of a map showing the proposed route kicked off a nine-year project by a very committed bunch of volunteers to transform this vision into New Zealand’s longest continuous single track – aka 85km of trail magic through forest, open tussock tops and ridges and river flats interspersed with some fine backcountry huts. This film tells the story and I thoroughly recommend a read of ‘Spirit to the Stone’ by Marion Boatwright as well.

Sign with a top image showing to only have one or two people cross the bridge at a time, and a bottom image of more than two people breaking the bridge and falling.
A fresh silver fern leaf still curled up and ready to unfurl


It made sense that it should be run in a day from Seddonville to Lyell, and thus the Old Ghost Ultra was born in 2016. I reckon The Old Ghost Ultra is the best little race in the world. So much so that I have now run the event three times since 2018 and fast-packed it for fun another time. In between, I’ve made sure to spread the word such that there has been a solid Adelaide contingent in attendance almost every year since 2018. Event entries are limited to 300 and the community feel is unmatched. The pre-race briefing and post-race wrap up need to be experienced for yourself, but they are both legendary!

The 2024 event was a bit different to all previous eight versions of this event in that it was changed to the mother of allout and backs due to the forecast. Kitted out in my very well worn ioMerino ‘run all the trails’ ultra tee and arm warmers to start, we plunge into the darkness for the beginning of 85km of continuous single track. The first section delivers bridge crossings, views of the Mōkihinui River, and sunrise all before Specimen Point Hut at the 17km mark.

Shortly after at the Mōkihinui Forks, we head south, following that branch of the mighty Mōkihinui and wind our way through native forest for a long stretch through to Stacky’s Hut on the Goat Creek flats before commencing the climb up to the saddle above The Boneyard.

This section looks like some giants decide to play marbles and throw huge rocks down a slope that the industrious volunteers then weaved/dynamited a single track through down to the valley.

By this point, the people who can actually run 85km were making their way back up, having been to the turnaround point at Stern Valley Hut already. I high fived ex-All Black captain Keiran Read so I could tell my friend Ronnie, who is a mad All Blacks fan, I had.

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Tunnel in the side of a mountain covered in moss
Bust of a woman wearing hiking gear in a forest.
Woman standing in front of a wooden sign saying The Old Ghost Road.


As usual, the wonderful LandSAR volunteers were on hand at Stern Valley to help us with our only drop bags that had been choppered in, and to make sure we all went back the right way. The way back was the same, except the ups were downs, the downs were ups, and it started raining. A lot. But wet is wet and when you’re wearing ioMerino, there’s not much to worry about other than putting one foot in front of the other, ignore the markers EVERY. BLOODY. KILOMETRE and rinse and repeat.

A bunch of legends were waiting for me at the finish line clad in their custom ioMerino Old Ghost t-shirts and keeping mine dry for me to change into. All up, another excellent day on my favourite trail and an excellent showing by the Adelaide crew. Race Director Phil and his army of volunteers did a superb job in making sure we were all safe despite the weather - which consisted of 27mm of rain, lightning, low visibility, and more rain.

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Bust shot of two women hugging Group back photo of five people all wearing their custom Old Ghost shirts. Group side photo of five people wearing their custom printed Old Ghost shirts.


The race day weather wasn’t to be repeated for the next week as I played Te Waipounamu tour guide for Lizzie and Sarah as we made our way from Mōkihinui to Queenstown/Tāhuna via Punakaiki (aka the pancake rocks) for epic coastal views, Ōkārito for fungi, Fox Glacier/ Te Moeka o Tuawe and Lake Matheson for mirror reflections of the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana, Haast Pass/Tioripatea for waterfalls and rock cairns, Lake Hāwea for big open skies, Wānaka to lake views, and Arrowtown for ice cream.

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I had a ball showing off some of my favourite places before leaving the crew in Queenstown to head back to my old stomping ground of Dunedin/Ōtepoti. There I enjoyed my favourite trails in the redwoods and on the tops, drinking beer and coffee, eating ice cream, and enjoying weather that only the Edinburgh of the south could serve up in summer. After doing much the same in Wellington/Te Upoko o te Ika-a-Māui for four days, I landed back in Adelaide with a set of ioMerino ultra tees ready for a wash wondering where the last month had gone. I’ll be heading back next year for sure and if you’re contemplating a trip across the ditch, hit me up for ideas. I am biased towards Te Waipounamu/South Island, but Ronnie can help you out with the north/Te Ika-a-Māui.