A cycle trail through South Island ghost towns following an old gold miners' route has received an $800,000 funding boost.

The Old Ghost Rd in the Tasman Region takes in long-forgotten gold rush settlements and remote farms abandoned after the 1929 magnitude 7.8 Murchison earthquake, which reshaped the land and limited access to the area.

Some 60km of the 80km trail has been completed to date.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith said the extra $800,000 of Department of Conservation (DOC) funding would enable the full track to be completed by March 2015.


He described the Old Ghost Rd as "a journey back in time" to the gold rush days of the 1860s.

The dual cycling and tramping trail, part of the New Zealand cycle trail, follows historic gold miners' roads from Lyell in the upper Buller Gorge and down the Mokihinui River to Seddonville.

It takes in the abandoned settlements of Zalatown and Gibbstown.

"Once fully complete, Old Ghost Rd 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 said.

The trail is being developed by the Mokihinui-Lyell Backcountry Trust, in partnership with DOC and community and business groups.