Family Activities in Haast
Haast is more than a tiny scattered town in the southern reaches of the West Coast. It is the gateway to the Te Wahipounamu – South West New Zealand World Heritage Area, meaning it has some of the most pristine landscapes and ecosystems protected on an international level. Great ways to experience them with kids is on the many short walks of the area or with even younger ones on helicopter tours. Jet boating is also a top activity here with two fantastic operators to choose from. Start making your Haast bucket list with these things to do in Haast with kids!
P.S. Don’t forget the sandfly repellent – 7 Best Insect Repellents for New Zealand.
1. Explore the Easy Walking Trails of Ship Creek
On your way in or out of Haast, be sure to stop by Ship Creek. There are two fantastic short walks here taking you through kahikatea (white pine) swamp forest, showcasing what the majority of the West Coast would have looked like before human settlement. Kids love climbing up the ladder into the elevated observation deck on the Kahikatea Swamp Walk (20 minutes return), while the Dune Lake Walk (30 minutes loop walk) takes you over boardwalk along the sand dunes, which is suitable for strollers until you reach the part of the walk that heads into the coastal forest. Check out more walks in the area in the 6 Best Walks in Haast.
Location: 7886/10714 Haast Highway, approximately 18km (11 miles) from Haast township.
2. Check Out All of the Waterfalls Along the Haast Pass Road
While you’re on the Haast Pass Road, treat the kids (and yourselves) to some spectacular viewings of waterfalls. Roaring Billy Falls is one of the closest to Haast and a walk that’s just a 25-minute return trip along a forest-lined track to the boulder-formed Roaring Billy cascades. Thunder Creek Falls and Fantail Falls are further down the Haast Pass Road, taking just five minutes to access each from the roadside car parks.
Location: All along the Haast Pass section of State Highway 6. Roaring Billy Falls – 26km (16 miles) from Haast. Thunder Creek Falls – 49km (30 miles) from Haast. Fantail Falls – 55km (34 miles) from Haast.
3. Visit the Blue Pools of Haast
Also on the Haast Pass Highway, the Blue Pools of Haast is an iconic attraction well worth checking out with the kids. This one-hour return walk is an easy stroll through the Mt Aspiring National Park forest and over two swingbridges crossing vibrant blue glacial waters. Kids love walking down to the pebbled banks of the rivers to building towers and skimming stones in the river. The walk is stroller-friendly until you reach the first swingbridge.
Location: Haast Pass, State Highway 6, approximately 69km (43 miles) from Haast.
4. Admire the Coastal Views from the Knights Point Lookout
If you’re travelling to Haast from the West Coast glaciers, stop by this scenic lookout and parking area along the highway. Knights Point offers expansive views of the rugged West Coast, making for an ideal photo stop. There is also a granite column to commemorate the opening of this part of the highway in 1965.
Location: Signposted off State Highway 6, approximately 28km (17 miles) from Haast township.
5. Blast Down the River with Waiatoto River Safari
Whatever the weather, you can enjoy a jet boating adventure on the rivers of Haast thanks to Haast’s innovative jet boat designs with all-weather covering. Waiatoto River Safari is one of the jet boat offerings, starting with a fun tractor tour from the base with the jet boat in tow (not officially part of the tour but it’s still worth mentioning). You’ll hop into the boat with the kids to be launched into the Waiatoto River. From there, it’s a scenic journey into the remote wilderness of the Mt Aspiring National Park along a shallow glacial river. There’s an optional short walk at the end of the line, as well as refreshments and drinks provided. Then, it’s back down to the Tasman Sea where kids love the 360º spins! The tour lasts approximately 2-2h30mins.
Location: 1975 Hannahs Clearing, Haast-Jackson Bay Road, approximately 23km (14 miles) from Haast township.
6. Or Opt for a Shorter Trip Down the Haast River with Haast River Safari
Your alternative jet boat option, this time on a bit of a larger boat, is with Haast River Safari. The difference? They take you on the Haast River! Soak in the awe-inspiring scenery amidst the Te Wahipounamu – South West New Zealand World Heritage Area as you venture up the river that follows the Haast Pass but in an arguably more exciting way. Learn stories of the area from your knowledgeable guide soak in the scenery when you get off the boat with its easy step-on front-loading access. Their tour is only one to 1h30mins, making a good option for those on limited time or budget. Check out more jet boat tours around the country in the 17 Places to Jet Boat in New Zealand.
Location: Just off the east end of the Haast River road bridge, approximately 4km (2 miles) from Haast township.
7. Enjoy an Exciting Scenic Helicopter Flight Over a World Heritage Area
For families looking for something pretty special, check out the helicopter flights from Haast. Haast is an ideal base for seeing some of the lesser-seen regions of the Mt Aspiring National Park and the World Heritage Area, as well as the Haast Coast and even all the way to Milford Sound – yes, it’s closer than you would think! Flights with HeliServices.NZ and Greenstone Helicopters depart from Haast Airstrip, taking you to the far reaches of New Zealand that otherwise would be difficult to access with children. Children under three years old can sit on an adult’s lap on the flight.
Location: HeliServices.NZ – Corner of State Highway 6 and Marks Road. Greenstone Helicopters – Airport Lane.
8. Take the Kids to the Beach
When in doubt, you can always rely on the beach! Haast has some ruggedly beautiful beaches with mountain views, awash in driftwood so you can help the kids build driftwood dens and write their name in the sand. Enjoy a stroll on the beach and go for a light paddle, although we don’t recommend any actual swimming as the beaches are not patrolled and the conditions can get pretty rough. See more experiences like this in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Haast.
Location: Haast Beach, Haast-Jackson Bay Road, approximately 7km (4 miles) from Haast township.