Planning a trip to Haast? Looking for some great ideas for things to do in Haast? You’ve come to the right place.

If you’re looking for your next South Island road trip destination, then Haast is a great contender to consider. Officially part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Haast has a plethora of mesmerising natural attractions to see along with a number of different ways to experience them. Below you’ll find a list of our favourite things to do in Haast to get you excited about your next adventure there!

1. Haast Visitor Centre

Starting our list is the first place you should go when you get there. The Haast Visitor Centre is an excellent one-stop shop for all you need to know about Haast and the wider area.

Granted, we cover a bit of it in this article, but there are some great nuggets of knowledge to be had here that can only come from locals who’ve lived their lives there. The informative displays inside almost make it like a small museum and the surrounding grounds with landscaped ponds make a great place to chill and relax. You can also pick up a few essentials (and souvenirs) here before getting underway too.

Haast township is also worthy of exploration before you set off to discover some of the amazing things to do in the Haast area so take some time to visit some of the local shops and cafes before you head off.

2. Gates of Haast


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The Gates of Haast is the iconic bridge of the region that overlooks a picturesque view of some rapids and mountains. The river that runs through is the equally iconic Haast River and the rapids are the result of the naturally deep gorge it follows. The boulders on either side are large and impressive making a great display of New Zealand wilderness.

With native bush all around, you’ll have all the ingredients you need for some sublime snaps. There’s a small amount of parking nearby but just be mindful of the traffic that uses the bridge.

3. Haast River Safari

There’s nothing more adventurous than going on safari and you can do precisely that with the great folk at Haast River Safari. Haast River Safari is an award-winning tour group that has specially designed safari jet boats to explore all the great sights to see on the Haast River.

This remarkable area of glacial valley has a surrounding rainforest around it, teeming with bird and wildlife. The team here know all the best spots to see and give an entertaining commentary along the way with some great stories shared. On top of this, there’s the thrill of the jet boat ride itself where you’ll enjoy a number of 360 spins and other exhilarating manoeuvres during the one hour ride.

Fun Fact – Haast is named after Julius von Haast, a Prussian-born geologist who was a key figure in early surveys of New Zealand.

4. Haast Pass


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Haast Pass is one of the most well-known roads in the country and is one of three mountain passes that cross the Southern Alps, rising to over 1,800ft above sea level at its highest point.

It’s a pass with great history, originally used by Māori in expeditions for greenstone. As well as being a glorious stretch of road to drive, there are a number of fantastic walks and trails you can do (some of which feature below) that really get you immersed in nature.

One of the best is the Blue Pools Track, a short one hour walk that takes you to a platform that overlooks the exquisite Blue Pools, a stream of pure glacial water that pops blue with colour on a clear and calm day.

5. Hapuka Estuary Walk

Less than a 10-minute drive from Haast you’ll find the Hapuka Estuary, a fantastic reserve that has a lovely boardwalk to enjoy a peaceful and relaxing stroll.

At 1km in length, you could easily do it in 20 minutes or so but you’ll no doubt savour your experience, taking your time to admire all there is to see. This includes some of our most amazing native birds like the Tui, Korimako (Bellbird) and Kereru (Wood Pigeon). It’s also a breeding area for many species of fish like Kahawai, Flounder, Mullet and Whitebait – the latter, a well-established national delicacy.

6. HeliServices Haast


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Haast is an incredible area to explore on foot but it looks even better from the air, especially by helicopter via the great team at HeliServices Haast. As previously mentioned, Haast is part of a UNESCO Heritage area with no shortage of natural wonders to mesmerise the eye from above.

HeliServices offer a number of scenic flights that loop around some fantastic spots including Milford Sound, Mt Aspiring, the Hanging Lakes, Mt Hooker and Mt Dechen. They also specialise in customised hunting and fishing trips for enthusiasts of those pursuits. If you’re just after a taste, they also do a short 10 minute Haast Coastal Flight where you might even see a dolphin or two.

Fun Fact – The rarest subspecies of Kiwi (Haast Tokoeka) can only be found in the mountains of Haast.

7. Knights Point Lookout

For the best vantage point of the amazing coastline, you’ll want to head to the Knights Point Lookout, 20 minutes drive north of Haast. Here you’ll get a real appreciation of the power of nature where the wild Tasman Sea crashes against the rugged West Coast.

The uninterrupted, panoramic view of the coast is as refreshing as it is remarkable. There are information panels that talk about the history, land formations and sea life which includes seals that are frequently seen in the area. With plenty of parking and picnic tables, you’ll find it a very comfortable stop to take it all in.

8. Lake Ellery

Lake Ellery is a pristine body of water and glacier-formed lake with a very pleasant 2-3 hour return walk – perfect for that early morning stroll. Somewhat off the beaten track, it’s one of the quieter walks to be found in the region which is nice for those that appreciate a bit more solitude in their trips.

On a calm and clear day, you’ll get wonderful reflections in the water of the snow-capped mountains and dense beech forest that surrounds it. Also known as a great area for bird spotting with the likes of Kereru (Wood Pigeon), Piwakawaka (Fantail) and Riroriro (Grey Warblers) regularly seen.

9. Roaring Billy Falls


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Aside from having one of the best names for a waterfall in New Zealand, the Roaring Billy Falls offers a fantastic all-round scenic experience. As one of a number of walks off the Haast Pass, this 25-minute return walk deserves mention for its stunning tree and fern-lined path which has a distinct Middle Earth feel to it.

The waterfalls themselves are also amazing, flowing from height down an assortment of huge boulders towards the rocky river below. Short and sweet, it’s a visit that’s low on effort and high in reward.

Fun Fact – Haast was once home to the Haast Eagle, the largest eagle to have ever existed with an estimated weight of 15 kg.

10. Ship Creek Walks

One of the highest-rated things to do Haast is the Ship Creek Walks, of which there are two, each offering a unique scenic attraction. The first is the Kahikatea Swamp Forest Walk, a 20-minute stroll on the boardwalk that delves you deep into a lush swamp forest full of Kahikatea (officially New Zealand’s tallest tree).

The other walk is the epic Dune Lake Walk, a 30-minute walk that takes you in and around sand dunes and coastal forest with some great lookout spots towards the coast. You basically get two for the price of one here (there’s no actual charge) and when you throw in the commonly seen dolphins that swim the seas, this visit is a real no-brainer.

11. Tawaki Wilderness Photography

For those who are deeply passionate about photography, you might be tempted by the prospect of a four-day photography tour of incredible scenery and wildlife. The Tawaki Wilderness Expressive Retreat gives you this opportunity with a tour that focuses on the magnificent Tawaki Penguins.

Led by expert photographer Richard Young and Gerry McSweeney, you’ll spend your four days in and around the beautiful Lake Moeraki, a glorious site in itself. This really is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences where you’ll pick up some amazing tips, resulting in breathtaking shots that’ll look great on the wall.

Some great things to do in Haast

So there you have it, some awesome things to do in Haast as part of your West Coast road trip. If you’re setting out from Queenstown Airport the drive to Haast will take just under 3 hours. Along the way you’ll find Cardrona (a world-class ski area) and Wanaka (simply world-class) – fantastic places to stop along the way.