Things to do in Haast

Situated on the frontier of the UNESCO World Heritage Area, the town of Haast has a permanent population of 249 people, and covers an area of 2500 square kilometres.

Haast Junction is located on the southwest bank of the Haast River, immediately south of the Haast Bridge, at the junction of State Highway 6 and the Haast–Jackson Bay Road.

Here you will find a garage and Heartland Hotel Haast.

The Department of Conservation operates a visitor centre just south the Haast Junction, offering a wide range of information about the Haast area.

The smaller Haast Beach is on the coast of the Tasman Sea, 2 kilometres down the Haast–Jackson Bay Road.

There you will find a grocery shop, postal service and garage. The larger Haast township is located 3 kilometres south of Haast Junction, on State Highway 6.

Haast village has accommodation, a cafe, a tavern and a lovely clothing and gift shop. If you are looking for Haast camping grounds, the town of Haast has a holiday park, and there is the DOC operated Cameron Flat campsite in Haast Pass.

There are several things to do in Haast including:

  • Fishing,
  • Tramping and short nature walks,
  • Jet boating,
  • Helicopter flights,
  • Birdwatching.

Aerial view of the Waiatoto River near Haast.

Haast Beach

Jackson Bay, Haast.

History of Haast

European settlement of the area dates back to the 1870s. At first, the area could only be accessed by seagoing vessels, with some rough tracks from the north and east.

The Haast Pass was opened in 1965 providing access between the West Coast and Wanaka.

In 1990 the Haast area was included as part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, giving international recognition as a location of significant natural value to Te Wahipounamou – The South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.

Visitors who venture off the beaten track will be enchanted by this area’s secluded beaches and remote river valleys.

Today, Haast’s main industries are sea fishing, hunting and tourism. From 1 September to 14 November every year, the population explodes to over 1,000 people during whitebait season.

Jackson Bay

Jackson Bay is a natural harbour and is home to Hector Dolphin, Orca whale, penguins, seals, multiple fish and birdlife.

The bay is home to a handful of commercial fishermen and you can walk out on the wharf and talk to them or fish yourself.

Visit The Craypot once you get there for a hot coffee and stunning seafood meal.

There are magical walks in Jackson Bay including wheelchair access walks.  At the very end of the road is the Wharekai- Te Kou walk, a boardwalk which takes you through native forest to the rugged West Coast ocean beach to rock pools with shellfish and seals (40 minutes return).

Take a walk along the beach to spot a piece of Pounamu (greenstone). Neil’s Beach is the recommended safe place to swim in this area.