The Complete Guide to Haast© Unsplash
The Complete Guide to Haast

The Complete Travel Guide to Haast

© Unsplash

A Travel Guide to Haast

Basking in spectacular mountains views with lush rainforest tumbling from the slopes to the rugged coast, Haast is a place so beautiful with an ecosystem so unique that it is preserved on an international scale. Haast is in the heart of the Te Waihipounamu World Heritage Area and has three national parks surrounding it. You know that mind-blowing natural scenery that brought you to New Zealand? Well, this is it.

Haast is a tiny town, however, with limited services and accommodation but there’s still something for all types of traveller. It is scattered across three main areas, the township, the junction (to Jackson Bay) and the beach. Thankfully, there’s also places to pick up sandfly repellent because you’re going to need it! Thankfully, those pesky insects keep people moving and the scenery outstanding.

So plan your stay in Haast according to your unique travel style with this complete travel guide to Haast.

Fast Facts About Haast

Location: On the southwest coast of the South Island in the West Coast region.

Population: 240

Climate: Daily average temperature – 11.9°C/53.4°F, yearly average rainfall – 4,543mm/178.9
Find out more in What is the Weather Like in New Zealand?

Time zone: NZST / GMT+12/+13

How to get to Haast: Haast is connected to the rest of the South Island via State Highway 6. The closest international airport is Queenstown Airport (2h40mins drive), which also has frequent domestic flights from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Haast is on the main national bus route, which you can find more information about in Bus Networks in New Zealand.

The Complete Guide to Haast©

Haast for Budget Travellers

Primarily, Haast is about the scenery. It’s the gateway to the Te Waihipounamu World Heritage Area, as well as lines the coast with rugged cliffs and beaches. For budget travellers, the best way to explore the area is by tying up your hiking boots. There are also some noteworthy scenic road trips, including that to Jackson Bay and down the Haast Pass. Plus, by staying in the town’s holiday park or motels, your stay can be super affordable. Find out more in The Guide to Haast on a Budget.

Budget Activities in Haast

For more details on each activity and more, check out the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Haast.

Budget Accommodation in Haast

Luckily, most of the accommodations in Haast are budget, including a holiday park and several motels. What’s more, some of the motels have backpacker dorms and campsites of their own. Check them out in the 5 Best Budget Accommodation in Haast.

The Complete Guide to Haast©

Haast for Luxury Travellers

For travellers seeking the grandest scenery in New Zealand, many would agree that you’ll find it in Haast. Its airstrip is a busy place of scenic helicopter and plane rides allowing you to witness the majesty of the Southern Alps, the Mt Aspiring National Park or even use Haast as a unique base to see Milford Sound. When the weather isn’t playing ball, travellers can always rely on the jet boat operators with their innovative all-weather jet boats taking you on a sea-to-mountains journey. As for luxury stays, your options are limited but utterly indulgent if quaint country lodges are your thing. Find out more in The Luxury Guide to Haast.

Luxury Activities in Haast

  • Land by remote lakes, fly over glaciers or to Milford Sound with HeliService.NZ
  • Enjoy a fixed-wing scenic flight with Knights Point Air
  • Blast up the glacier river valleys whatever the weather with Haast River Safari
  • Do a helicopter and jet boat combo with Wilkin River Jets
  • Fly, hike and jet boat in with wilderness with Siberia Experience.

For more details on each, as well as others, see the 7 Luxury Activities in Haast.

Luxury Accommodation in Haast

Four-star boutique accommodation is the closest you’ll get to luxury in Haast, which comprises of Mahitahi Lodge in Bruce Bay and Collyer House on the way to Jackson Bay. Both offer rooms for solo travellers, couples or a couple of friends, while Mahitahi Lodge also has room for families.

The Complete Guide to Haast©

Haast for Families

Traditionally, travelling deep into the remote wilderness or to alpine lakes is something only accessible by hiking that you’d never manage to bring kids along on. But, thanks to the family-friendly jet boat and aviation operators in Haast, the whole family can revel in the scenery of a World Heritage Area, along with its glaciers, lakes, rivers and snowcapped mountains. What’s more, on the way to and from Haast, you’ll find lots of short walks that you can even accomplish with a stroller! Check them out and more in The Guide to Haast for Families.

Family-friendly Activities in Haast

For more information and locations of each activity, check out the 8 Things to Do in Haast with Kids.

Family Accommodation in Haast

While the holiday park with its playground and well-presented units is an obvious choice for families, there’s also several motels and apartment-style accommodations that offer all sorts of conveniences. Check them out in the 9 Best Family Accommodation in Haast.

The Complete Guide to Haast©

Haast for Couples

Offering a break from the touristy towns of Wanaka and Franz Josef on either side, Haast is a tranquil retreat for couples. What’s more, it basks in rugged beauty in its mountains-to-sea landscapes that can be enjoyed through intimate flights or independent walks. Stay in one of the secluded lodges of the area and you have a couples’ retreat that is bound to be one of the most memorable and surprising in the South Island. Plan your getaway with that special someone using The Honeymoon Guide to Haast.

Romantic Activities in Haast

  • Enjoy one of Haast’s romantic walks
  • Take a scenic fixed-wing flight over a World Heritage Area
  • Enjoy a romantic stroll on Haast Beach
  • Experience the Mt Aspiring National Park scenery via jet boat
  • Treat your loved one to a romantic dining experience.

For more details on each activity and others, check out the 6 Romantic Activities in Haast for Couples.

Romantic Accommodation in Haast

Boutique lodges, B&Bs and cabins surrounded in majestic landscapes make up some of the romantic stays in Haast. Accommodations range from affordable to lavish, so take your pick from the 5 Best Romantic Accommodation in Haast.

The Complete Guide to Haast©

Haast for Foodies

While we don’t have a full foodie guide to Haast, don’t let that fool you. If there was any part of New Zealand that held such pride for its local delicacies, this would be it. Whitebait is a staple of Haast, where its river estuaries are awash in narrow jetties of the whitebait fishermen lining the banks between mid-August to November.

As well as just about any type of seafood, especially crayfish and blue cod, venison is also a highlight of the West Coast cuisine, as Haast is home to an avid hunting community who storm into the forests of Mt Aspiring to rid it of their pest species while getting tasty wild meat in the process.

All of the above foods can be experienced at just about any of Haast’s eateries, including the town’s tavern Hard Antler Bar & Restaurant and the supermarket cafe Grumpy Cow Cafe. Many locals passing through Haast make a 100km (60-mile) detour to Jackson Bay to indulge in the fresh seafood of The Craypot. Food trucks/trailers are also an icon of the region, especially Haast – Otoko Espresso tiny trailer usually in the town centre and Curly Tree Whitebait in Wakefield.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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