South Westland

The Haast Highway, State Highway 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. A 50 km sealed road through a mix of farmland, mature native trees, and wetlands runs the length of Jackson Bay Okahu to the hamlet of Jackson Bay at the road's end. The small settlements of Okuru, Hannah’s Clearing, and Neil’s Beach offer easy beach access. You can also 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 km. It is as far south as you can go by road, except for the Milford Sound access road. After 3 km, 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 the 737-metre one-lane bridge. Most of these river plains were cleared of forest and farmed, except 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 Ship Creek, near Lake Moeraki and from the north end of the Haast to Paringa Cattle Track.

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