I say weekend, but honestly I was only in Haast on the West Coast of New Zealand for 1 full day, 2 nights.
We drove through “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 the West Coast on the Friday night was spectacular! And I’m 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 bright 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 magical. Around each bend, something different to see. And in that moment, there was nothing I wished more than having a phone camera that had the ability to capture the views.
This trip wasn’t a long one nor was it packed with activities. It was just an excuse to 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. My partner and I arrived much later and we were all pretty tired that evening. So we enjoyed a relaxing night of chatting with a film on in the background.
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 frolicking on the beach; riding 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. 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 Haast and the West Coast, but not before scouting out another nearby beach. Unfortunately, it was wet and windy. 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, we did not stay long. To my disappointment, we didn’t see any of the penguin colonies that live around there, either.
The rest of the adults took a short walk on the beach in the 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.
What Haast is all about
Our getaway to Haast, the gateway village into the West Coast of New Zealand, was not booked up with activities, as I mentioned earlier. But if you were to go to this lovely part of the country closer to summertime 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 crashing waves and huge 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 trees so tall, they’re in the clouds.
And the best part? There is so much thriving wildlife around Haast and all along this coastline 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!
Haast + West Coast is renowned for its incredible environment
The West Coast, and in particular the Haast region, was awarded the status of being a “World Heritage” area by UNESCO, and rightly so. I doubt there are many places left in the world that are as pure and untouched by mankind.
Saying that, Haast and its surrounding area is popular with 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,