History of Haast

Situated on the frontier of the World Heritage Area, Te-Wahipounamu, South West New Zealand (1986), Haast has a permanent population of 300 people, covers an area of 2500 square kilometres and is made up of several small settlements (including the Haast Township, Haast Junction, Okuru, Hannahs Clearing, Neils Beach and Jackson Bay).

Successive glaciations and unrelenting westerly storms have shaped this wild but stunningly beautiful landscape. Now showcasing alpine glaciers and snowfields, soaring rock bluffs, river valley gorges and isolated sandy beaches.

Haast’s remoteness to it’s neighbouring towns (until 1960) eluded any extensive logging in the area and is now the proud host to some of the world’s finest remaining examples of Gondwana flora and fauna. Some podocarps are over 800 years old.

This place has an intriguing Maori and European history as people struggled to survive and searched for pounamu (greenstone), gold, and the lost ruby mine.

Today, Haast’s main industries are sea fishing, hunting and tourism. From 1 September to 14 November every year, the population explodes to over 1000 people during waitebait season.

Visitors who venture “off the beaten track” will be enchanted by this area’s secluded beaches, remote river vallies and mysterious temperate rain forests.

This is Aspiring Country. Part of Mount Aspiring National Park and one of New Zealand’s three World Heritage Area.

  • Te Wahipounamu South Westland,
  • Tongariro Nationa Park
  • Sub-Antarctic Islands