Venture into the Haast World Heritage Area, a magnificent, pure wilderness where time has almost stood still. Wild, untouched, nature at its best.
UNESCO has recognised this vast region of mountains, wild torrents, remote beaches, lakes and ancient forests for its precious natural and cultural values. Arrive by road then leave the beaten track to follow a natural highway, by river or air, into a treasured place.
A snow fed stream feeds a hanging lake in a high glaciated valley above the Haast Valley.
South West New Zealand is one of the world’s last great natural areas. This vast wilderness area encompasses four national parks and takes up almost 10 per cent of New Zealand’s land area.
UNESCO World Heritage status recognises this region for its spectacular glaciated landforms — fiords, lakes, peaks and valleys — and rocks, flora and fauna originating back to the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana. It is home to rare wildlife including endangered bird species such as cheeky kea (mountain parrots), the once-believed extinct takahe and the rarest kiwi.
For Ngāi Tahu — the Māori people of the South Island — the great mountains and valleys of Te Wāhipounamu are the places of atua (the gods) and the ancestors from whom they trace their roots.
The road to Jackson Bay follows a scenic route through forests, over rivers and along the coast.
Haast sits on the northwestern edge of this extraordinary ocean to alpine landscape of ancient forests, wild rivers, glaciated valleys and peaks, and rugged coastline extending into New Zealand’s most remote, least touched wilderness.
From the edge of paradise, take the natural highway and jet boat up the Haast or Waiatoto rivers into some of the world’s purest landscapes. Follow a turquoise river threading between the boulders into a remote valley of deep green forests and soaring mountains.
Rise above on a breath-taking scenic helicopter flight over a majestic alpine landscape of craggy peaks and tumbling waterfalls, land beside a pristine hanging lake and step out into sublime wilderness.
The iconic Jackson Bay Wharf stretches out into the only natural port on the West Coast.
From Fox Glacier to Jackson Bay, there is an endless parade of wild beaches — rocky, sandy, driftwood-rich — like windswept Bruce Bay with its wide untamed ocean vistas, fringed with dense forest.
Jackson Bay, south of Haast, is a sleepy little fishing village on a wide natural harbour with an iconic crayfish cafe beside the beach. Watch out for tiny Hector’s dolphins surfing in the waves and, in season, the whitebaiters at their stands at the river mouths.
The Haast region has many walking tracks from short, easy strolls to waterfalls and beaches to long tramping routes for experienced hikers. Follow the sandy forest trail to Monro Beach for the chance to view tawaki Fiordland crested penguins, or explore an ancient kahikatea swamp forest and a dune lake at Ship Creek.
Discover the iconic Blue Pools near the summit of the scenic Haast Pass Highway.
Just getting to Haast is an amazing scenic experience as nearly every rest stop on the wayside comes with a scenic bonus of coastal highlights or alpine treats.
The spectacular Haast Pass Highway — 140 km traversing the alpine divide between Wānaka in Central Otago and the West Coast — provides a series of worth-stopping-for short walks to glacial blue pools, roaring waterfalls, undulating forests and coastal wetlands.
Thunder Creek Falls live up to their name crashing down a sheer 28-metre rock face into a deep pool beneath, but don’t miss out on pretty Fantail Falls or the famous Blue Pools at the top.
Rushing waterfalls, tranquil pools, glacial water — take a dip into pure wilderness at Haast.
The Haast area is a collection of tiny communities including Haast township, Haast Junction and Haast Beach, all close to the main highway SH6. Haast is a 142 km (2 hr) drive from Wanaka, and 119 km (1.5 hr) drive south of Fox Glacier township.
Jackson Bay is at the end of the coastal road, an easy 32 km (30 min) scenic drive from Haast township, often rated as one of the West Coast’s ‘best kept secrets’ by visitors.
The Haast DOC (Department of Conservation) Visitor Information Centre provides excellent interpretation and information about the Haast area.
At Hokitika Gorge, nature creates a stunning visual sensation of glorious colours and outstanding beauty.
Tranquil Lake Brunner, largest lake on the West Coast, is a popular family holiday spot and a world-class trout fishing destination.
Experience extraordinary limestone arches and caves, whisky coloured wilderness rivers and lush rainforest in Kahurangi National Park.
Discover New Zealand’s twin glaciers and most diverse alpine to coastal landscape.
Follow the stunning Great Coast Road, one of the world’s Top 10 Coastal Drives, to the incredible Pancake Rocks and Blowholes.