I say weekend, but honestly I was only in Haast for 1 full day (2 nights). We drove through what is called the Haast pass from Wanaka on Friday evening. I begrudged going after work, in the dark, as it would be a two hour drive and we would end up arriving around 9pm. Plus, the roads through the pass are winding and dangerous in certain conditions. But our journey to Haast on the Friday night was spectacular and I am glad I got to experience it at that time. Though it was fully dark at 8pm, the full moon was out this night and the glow of it bounced off the snow capped mountains around us, lighting up the ever-changing scenery and the sky full of stars. The ride was made magical. And in that moment, there was nothing I wished more than having a phone camera that had the ability to capture what I was seeing!
This trip wasn’t long nor was it packed with activities, but it was an excuse to leave Wanaka and see something different. It was me and my partner, our two friends, their kids and the dog. Our friends had taken the day off work on Friday to go and have a beach afternoon with the kids. We arrived later, and it’s safe to say, we were all pretty tired that evening and enjoyed a night of just chilling, with a film on in the background (the kids were watching Despicable Me). On Saturday, we were ready to go and have a proper beach day, but not before having a pub lunch at one of only two places to eat in Haast. We had a lovely day that entailed roaming around the beach on the quad (popular hobby here in NZ), taking a long stroll, collecting shells and pretty rocks, and setting up a campfire where the kids roasted marshmallows and we all watched the sunset. Or at least, we tried to watch the sunset. Although it was a stunning day considering it’s mid-winter, it was warm and there was no wind, the clouds rolled in just as the sun was setting and blocked our view of the horizon. Saturday night ended similarly to Friday, where we sat back with a film on (Jurassic Park). I also got quite a bit of reading in whilst in bed with the heated blanket on high – so cosy!
On Sunday, it was our time to leave, but not before scouting out another beach nearby. Unfortunately, it was wet and windy on this day, a complete contrast to the sunny and calm Saturday. So although we drove along a small bit of the coast and through a rainforest, towards a place called Jackson Bay, that supposedly was a popular place with penguin colonies, we did not stay long. We didn’t see any of the penguins, either. The others took a short walk on the beach in the wind and rain, whilst I stayed in the car reading my book (if we played a game called spot the introvert, I think you could guess who it was!). The kids also stayed in the car, happily eating snacks and arguing. After that, we headed back to Wanaka! Back through the Haast pass, home to countless impressive waterfalls.
As I mentioned earlier, our getaway to Haast was not booked out with activities. But if you were to go to this lovely rural community another time, maybe closer to summer, and have your days planned out, I have no doubt that it would be a dreamy little holiday. It’s hard to describe the area other than; a rural community by the sea nestled in amongst some Jurassic-looking mountains.
Wherever you look, you can find somewhere ready to explore. The beach, with it’s giant waves and hidden caves, housing New Zealand’s famous glow worms. The river, ready to lead your boat into the native bush, showing off roaring waterfalls. The hills and mountains, with their unspoiled rainforests.
And the best part? There is so much thriving wildlife around Haast because of its location and the fact that humans haven’t ruined the area with industrialisation. Penguins, seals and dolphins grace the waters here, and you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of them if you stay at the right time. Further inland, hidden among the native trees and foliage, are native birds, including the rarest subspecies of Kiwi – the Haast Tokoeka!
It’s no wonder the Haast region was awarded the status of being a “World Heritage” area by UNESCO. I doubt there are many places left in the world that are as pure and untouched by mankind.
Saying that, Haast is well liked by people who go on fishing, tramping and hunting trips. I won’t delve further into this subject or give any information on what that’s like (because I care about sentient beings), but I cannot make an article about the area without letting you know what it is popular for. Whether it’s arrival by car, helicopter or a small plane, Haast greets many fishermen and hunters.
If you’re looking for a getaway engrossed in nature – this is the place for you. There are new and old cabins you can rent out. Whether it’s in the tiny town, by the beach, or in the bush, it would make for a perfectly serene stay… away from the bustle of people, the noise of cities, and the distraction of technology. In some spots, there isn’t even enough infrastructure for wifi to work so it is the ideal place to disconnect.
Come rain or shine, Haast happily supplies you with short walks, hikes, camping areas, and sightseeing tours.
For a look at the brochure on the area, or more information on walks and activities, click here.
Until Next Time,