The Haast Pass is a true natural marvel, boasting an endless range of majestic backdrops that perfectly encapsulate everything that is beautiful about New Zealand. For budding travellers lucky enough to experience the serene and awe-inspiring hikes the South Island has on offer, The Haast Pass is simply not to be missed.
Weaving its way around the South Island’s majestic West Coast, here is a quick guide on how to go about exploring this natural wonderland.
Getting to the Haast Pass
The Haast Pass is one of three alpine passes traversing the South Island, the other two being Arthur’s Pass and the Lewis Pass. The Haast Pass is connected to State Highway 6, with the route being part of a traditional Maori pass when collecting pounamu, or greenstone jade. The road is an important aspect of New Zealand tourism, as it provides a useful loop around the South Island.
When to visit the Haast Pass
The Haast Pass isn’t recommended for tourists looking to fit a lot of activities into a short timeframe. If you truly want to experience the immaculate beauty of The Haast Pass it is recommended that you allow yourself a minimum of six hours. The last thing you want is to get there, witness its outstanding beauty, and quickly leave again.
The Pass is susceptible to heavy rains throughout the year. What’s more, the area experiences snowfall during the winter months, so it is important to check the conditions specific to the time you are planning on heading out there.
The stunning sights
The Haast Pass, as we’ve mentioned, is an unrivalled natural location, replete with some of the most stunning scenery New Zealand has to offer. Starting at Lake Wanaka, head out towards the incredible Mt Iron and the extraordinary Clutha River.
At Mt Iron, you will find an easy hour-and-a-half tack that provides gorgeous views of both Lake Wanaka and the Upper Clutha Basin. If you are short on time, you can bypass this section and head towards Makarora and Lake Hawea. This area includes the scenic spaces including the Lake Wanaka Lookout, the Deans Bank mountain bike track as well as a charming low saddle point known as “The Neck”.
The route then heads into Mt Aspiring National Park, renowned for its exalted mountains, pristine glaciers, waterfalls, streams and vibrant beech forests. There are numerous entry points for taking on the shorter Mt Aspiring National Park walks. A three or four hour walk around the East Matukituki Valley Track boasts incredible bluffs, gorges, valleys and waterfalls.
If three or four hour walks aren’t your thing, the Makarora region offers short walks, some only 15 minutes long. Regardless of the length, you are sure to witness some of the most incredible, untouched wilderness available in the country.
Finally, be sure to experience the absolute highlight of the journey: the Haast World Heritage Area. Here, you find walking tracks that lead to the Gates of Haast, a must-do for hikers and photographers alike. After experiencing this remarkable natural wonder, head to the world famous Franz Josef Glacier, one of the most inspiring in the Southern Hemisphere.
Stay at Wonderland Makarora Lodge
Wonderland Makarora Lodge is the quintessential spot to rest your weary legs after a day’s exploring. Our beautiful accommodation boasts both cosy cabins and exquisite chalets, perfect for couples and bigger groups. We also offer a full dining experience for guests.
Book now for your unforgettable Haas Pass experience.