Jackson Bay Okahu
Jackson Bay Okahu in south Westland is the long crescent-shaped bay that runs between the Okuru River and the fishing hamlet of the same name at the south end of the bay. The drive to the hamlet of Jackson Bay is about 50 km from Haast. Once there, you are as far south as you can go on the west coast of the South Island, with the exception of the Milford Sound access road.
There are several places you can stop on the coast as you approach Jackson Bay, despite warnings of slips from the cliffs above the road. These give you an excellent view of the bay. Once at Jackson Bay, park beside the typically rugged West Coast beach.
The nearby tourist information panels provide an excellent history of the area, in particular the attempt to settle the area with over 400 German migrants in 1875. This was a miserable failure due to the tough and remote conditions and the lack of appropriate pioneering experience of the migrants. Some died and most of the rest left.
Claude Ollivier’s grave can be found on the foreshore of Jackson Bay, immediately in front of the beach near the car park entrance. It dates from 1862 and is the earliest recorded European grave on the West Coast.
Nowadays, there is a wharf supporting a handful of fishing boats, a campground, and the fabulous diner-style Craypot restaurant. This is a unique eating experience in Aotearoa, offering a range of local seafood including blue cod, whitebait and crayfish meals for breakfast through lunch.
After the Craypot, head over to the Wharekai Te Kou Walk, signposted near the main parking area.