South Westland

South Westland

The Haast Highway, SH 6, crosses Haast Pass into south Westland before heading north from the hamlet of Haast on the west coast. There are several places to stop to admire the scenery before the coast, including the Hooker Glacier from Pleasant Flat and the Roaring Billy Falls.

Shortly after Haast, head left to Haast Beach and Jackson Bay Okahu. There is a 50 km sealed road through a mix of farmland, mature native trees, wetlands and swamp that runs the length of Jackson Bay Okahu to the hamlet of Jackson Bay at the road end. There is easy beach access at the small settlements of Okuru, Hannah’s Clearing and Neil’s Beach. You can access the wetlands at the signposted Hapuka Estuary Walk.

Just after the one-lane Arawhata River bridge, the road takes a sharp right to Jackson Bay. There, you will also see a turnoff for Jackson River Road. This is a dead end metal road that follows the line of the Jackson River for 20 kms. It is as far south as you can go by road, except for the Milford Sound access road. After 3 kms, you will see the entrance to the fabulous short walk to Lake Ellery.

Heading north beyond Haast on SH 6, you cross the Haast River plain and then the 737 metre one-lane bridge. Most of these river plains were cleared of forest and farmed, with the main exception being from south of the Haast River to Lake Paringa. This area was particularly rugged so SH 6 was not pushed through until the 1960s. By then, conservationists had enough momentum to prevent further clearing. The surviving ancient forest is a gem in the wider Te Wāhipounamu region. It can be accessed at accessible at Ship Creek, near Lake Moeraki and the north end of Haast to Paringa Cattle Track.

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