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Exploring New Zealand

Haast Area Guide

Haast Visitor Centre
Haast is actually the name given to three separate settlements clustered around the mouth of the Haast river: Haast Junction, Haast Beach and Haast Township.

The Haast name comes from Julius von Haast, a scientist who made the first formal explorations of the region back in the 1860s. The area has a somewhat isolated feel, which is no surprise given it wasn't even connected to the national road network until late in the 20th century.

Haast river crossing on a grey day
Haast's isolation is its selling point, though, since it provides a base for various wilderness walking, sports and adventure activities, both waterborne and on land. The mix of windswept beaches, sand dunes, lakes, rivers, estuaries, rainforests and waterfalls does honour to the regions's designation within the Te Wahipounamu UNESCO World Heritage Area.

Many visitors come to Haast for the animal and plant life as much as the scenery. Among the more famous of the leafy local inhabitants are ancient Rimu trees (up to 800 years old), the towering Kahikatea (sometimes called the white pine and New Zealand's tallest tree), and silver beech forests.

On the animal front, the region is home to the Haast Tokoeka, an extremely rare variety of Kiwi with around 300 surviving specimens. Other birds and animals include the South Island Kaka (a parrot), fiordland crested penguins, fur seals and Hector dolphins. Information on walks and wildlife is available from the large visitor centre at Haast Junction.

Not a place for the casual tourist, Haast is nevertheless well situated for breaking up a journey between the north of the West Coast and Wanaka, Queenstown, Dunedin, and beyond.

There are, for example, various forms of accommodation available, a store (in the township), and a petrol station (at the junction) that stays open until the evening, with a 24 hour service for those able to pay using EPTOS. Even those passing through are advised to stock up here, as there are no shops or similar facilities north or west on Highway 6 for dozens of miles.


Okuru Beach Bed and Breakfast popular

Homestay style accommodation with double and single rooms (some ensuite). Self-contained cottage with two bedrooms and a private bathroom. Continental breakfast. Located 14km south of the Haast Information Centre.

The Cookhouse at Hannah's Beach popular

Private beachfront rental accommodation with 4 bedrooms (sleeping up to 10), living and dining area, kitchen and bathroom, washing machine and dryer, and BBQ. Located at Hannah's Beach, 10 minutes drive south of Haast.

Aspiring Court Motels

13 ensuite units with Sky TV, including 9 studio units, 3 1-bedroom units and a 2-bedroom unit. Facilities include car wash, card phone, guest laundry, fax and photocopying services, internet, BBQ and off-street parking. Centrally located in Haast township.

Collyer House Bed and Breakfast

Four ensuite bedrooms, individually furnished with antiques, feather duvets and pillows. Cooked breakfast included, dinner by arrangement. Shared guest facilities include a living area with stone fireplace, and a lounge. Situated 12km south of State Highway 6.

Haast Lodge

Budget accommodation in bunkrooms, twin/double and family rooms, and summer cabins. Communal lounge, full kitchen, bathrooms, broadband internet, payphones, laundry, off-street parking.

Haast River Safaris

Twice daily river safaris leaving from the Haast Bridge. Coach groups catered for on request.


Range of scenic flights, including Milford Sound, Mt Aspiring, Mt Cook and the glaciers. Other activities include guided hunting safaris, heli fishing, heli kayaking, heli rafting, heli skiing, and more.

Heritage Park Lodge

16 ground floor ensuite units. Studio units with kitchenettes, family units with fully equipped kitchens. Two guest laundries available, and car parking outside each unit.

McGuires Lodge

19 standard, studio and family non-smoking units, serviced daily. Rooms include a fridge and toaster, Sky TV, direct dial phones and a radio/alarm clock. Situated on State Highway 6, 700m south of the Haast River Bridge towards Wanaka.

Round About Haast

Guided land or boat tours of the South Westland world heritage area around Haast.

Waiatoto River Jetboat Safari

Jetboat adventures on the Waiatoto river. The tour begins in Waiatoto Lagoon, some 20km from Haast, taking visitors upriver into alpine wilderness before returning them to the Lagoon.

Wilderness Accommodation

Motel with ensuite twin and double rooms, and family units. Three wheelchair-accessible units. Kitchen and dining area provided for motel guest use. Backpackers area with single, double/twin and shared dorm rooms, communal kitchen, dining area and shared bathrooms.

World Heritage Hotel

Recently renovated 52 room hotel situated near the Haast Visitor Centre, 4km north of Haast Township. A bar and restaurant serve hearty West Coast dishes.