The Old Ghost Road was constructed by and is now operated and maintained by the volunteer-led Mokihinui-Lyell Backcountry Trust (MLBT) – a registered Charitable Trust. You can watch a short documentary (Muscle and Dreams) on the history and creation of The Old Ghost Road here or read all about it here in the official book, Spirit to the Stone.
The MLBT is entirely responsible for the maintenance and sustainability of The Old Ghost Road, its supporting huts, toilets, bridges and other facilities. The MLBT must raise all the funds required to fund these activities.
The pricing model set for The Old Ghost Road (and outlined below) is unique to this trail and is based on extensive thought and feedback from those of you who have visited and experienced The Old Ghost Road. In developing the pricing model, we have endeavoured to come up with a fair and reasonable pricing structure that will hopefully ensure the trail’s sustainability.
We have developed three general pricing approaches for The Old Ghost Road to reflect the main ways in which users experience the trail. These are:
- A flat fee for multi-day ‘Through-Users‘ traversing the whole trail (irrespective of whether you stay 1 or 4 nights, the latter being the prescribed maximum number of nights);
- An ‘In-and-Out‘ option for those not able to traverse the whole trail but who want a taste of The Old Ghost Road and who want to stay in one of the first huts from either end of the trail (and return back out the same way); and
- A ‘Day-User‘ option so that those who experience The Old Ghost Road in a day – whether in part or full – can also contribute to maintenance and upkeep.
For ‘Through-Users‘, there are three different pricing levels depending on whether you wish to stay in a private summer sleepout, a communal hut bunk, or tent site. Each accommodation option for Through-Users has the following fee associated with it:
- Private ‘summer sleepout’ – $360 per booking (allows up to 4 people to stay up to 4 nights);
- Communal hut bunk – $160 per person (allows 1 person to stay up to 4 nights); and
- Tent site (camping) – $50 per booking (allows up to 2 people to stay up to 4 nights).
For ‘In-and-Out Users‘, there are three different pricing levels depending on whether you wish to stay in a private summer sleepout, a communal hut bunk, or tent site at either of the Lyell Saddle or Specimen Point. Each accommodation option for ‘In-and-Out Users‘ has the following fee associated with it:
- Private ‘summer sleepout’ at Lyell Saddle or Specimen Point – $90 per sleepout (allows up to 4 people to stay 1 night);
- Communal hut bunk at Lyell Saddle or Specimen Point – $40 per person (allows 1 person to stay 1 night);
- Tent site (camping) at Lyell Saddle or Specimen Point – $25 per site (allows up to 2 people to stay 1 night).
For ‘Day-Users‘, there are two different contribution levels depending on whether you are experiencing part or all of the trail in one day (note the latter is only advisable for elite mountainbikers in summer). Day-User contributions are structured in the following manner:
- $15 – for those planning a day outing on PART of the trail who want to contribute their share to maintenance and upkeep; and
- $30 – For elite users planning a single-day assault on the ENTIRE trail who want to contribute their share to trail maintenance and upkeep.
Q: Why is pricing set like this? A: An awful lot of effort and investment has gone into The Old Ghost Road. The MLBT is deeply committed to ensuring The Old Ghost Road meets your expectations and provides an outstanding experience. Meeting maintenance standards is fundamental to user-enjoyment and the success of the trail. The MLBT has established what it will cost to maintain the trail on an (average) annual basis. Pricing levels reflect this fact. Historical pricing levels have proven to be inadequate.
Q: Why the ‘flat-fee’ approach and why not just have a higher per-night hut fee? A: We have thought long and hard about this and have considered a wide range of options. Simply increasing hut fees also brings the risk of potentially and inadvertently ‘encouraging’ more people to rush through and attempt the trail faster which in turn has the potential to introduce unwanted outcomes and conflicts. Hut fees would need to rise significantly to sustain the trail and this would also unreasonably disadvantage the several thousand users (mainly trampers) that visit The Old Ghost Road annually and stay 4 nights. We have reasoned that everyone gets to enjoy and experience the full length of The Old Ghost Road irrespective of how many nights they choose to stay and whether they ride or walk. Finally, we know that the majority of visitors come from far and wide and spend considerable sums on things like transport, accommodation, food and supporting services just getting to the trail compared to what is spent on the experience itself. The trail and facilities lie at the heart of a rich and enjoyable experience. We believe we have come up with a fair and equitable approach.
Q: How was the pricing set? A: Again, we have thought long and hard about pricing levels and have polled many users. We have endeavoured to be as reasonable as possible. The pricing levels have been set based on trail-use projections and the need to try and cover maintenance costs – no more, no less. As mentioned, we have reasoned that everyone gets to enjoy and experience the full length of The Old Ghost Road irrespective of how many nights they choose to stay. Ultimately, the user retains full choice for whether they wish to visit The Old Ghost Road. We respectfully accept that some users may choose to vote with their tyres and boots but we also know that we have the understanding and support of a large number of you who want to see this trail sustained and want to see changes made. We also know from your feedback that once you experience The Old Ghost Road, you understand and support this approach.