Visit Haast, West Coast, NZ

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  • Haast is one of New Zealand’s most remote locations accessible by highway. It is at the southern end of coastal State Highway 6, which turns inland to cross the Southern Alps at Haast Pass, named after early explorer and geologist Julius von Haast.

    Haast is a place of spectacular and unspoiled mountain and coastal wilderness, which is preserved as part of the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. This wild country is popular among photographers, trampers and deer stalkers. Its rivers are favoured for kayaking, white-water rafting and fly-fishing.

    The Jackson’s Bay area on the coast south of Haast was first settled by Europeans in the 1870s, for farming and harvesting rich resources such as timber, gold, greenstone and marine life such as seals, whales and fish. However, it had very limited access by land or sea, until the Haast Pass road was constructed in 1962.

    Accommodation in Haast (NZ)

    Haast is an ideal place to break the long journey between Westland and Fiordland. As a result, there are many accommodation options for all types of traveller.

    Haast consists of three small settlements, which all have accommodation. Haast Junction is located next to the highway. Three kilometres south is Haast Township, the largest settlement. A further 9 kilometres south-west is the small settlement of Haast Beach.

    Accommodation options include a hotel, with restaurant and bar, many motels, boutique lodges. A number of holiday parks cater for motor camping and have self-contained cabins or studio units. Backpacker lodges are a further alternative.

    Transport around Haast

    Haast is about 90 minutes drive from Wanaka, or 2.5 hours from Queenstown, across the Haast Pass. Travel times may be longer in winter, as this region has the highest rainfall in New Zealand.

    It takes longer to reach Haast from further north along the West Coast, due to tight and twisting nature of the road. However, this route is considered by many to be a highlight of their travels. The town of Hokitika is 3 to 3.5 hours’ drive north, the route passing through the “glacier country” of Franz Josef and Fox glaciers, and Mount Aspiring national park.

    Regular coach services stop at Haast, making it possible to stay overnight or for a number of days.

    Haast has an aerodrome that can receive charter flights from other regional locations such as Queenstown and Te Anau. Helicopters also operate, taking visitors to locations for kayaking, hunting, tramping and/or photography.

    Mountain bikes for hire allow visitors access to many attractions that are beyond walking distance. There is a biking trail to Lake Moeraki, about 30 km north-east of Haast.

    Tourist Activities around Haast

    Even if the weather is poor, there is plenty to do around Haast. A number of gift shops and craft galleries sell locally-made products which include woollen and possum fur clothing, jewellery, wood, stone and bone carving, and natural beauty products. There are cafes, bars and restaurants, which feature local seafood specialties, such as crayfish, whitebait, salmon and others.

    Jet boating on the Haast and Waitoto Rivers is popular. These are also suitable for white-water rafting and kayaking, which are offered by local operators. Fly-fishing for salmon is popular. Surf fishing from the coast can be exciting and productive.

    There are many short and long bush walks around Haast, including easy walks of up to 30 minutes, such as the Thunder Falls, Dune Lake, Hapuka Estuary and Ships Creek walks, which feature some of New Zealand’s tallest trees and give the chance to see rare bird life. New Zealand’s rarest subspecies of kiwi, the Totoeka, is found only is this region.

    Guided tours to Jackson’s Bay are available year-round, giving the chance to observe seals, dolphins and penguins (in season).

    Heli-ventures” is an all-inclusive term for wilderness activities accessed via helicopter. These are popular in Haast for deer-stalking, kayaking, rafting, climbing and tramping and for photography.

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