Makarora/Haast Pass - the Way to the West
The Haast Pass is a mountain pass in the Southern Alps, located in the West Coast region of New Zealand. It is one of three passes crossing the Southern Alps, the other two being Lewis Pass and Arthur's Pass.
The drive through the Haast Pass, from the West Coast to Wanaka passes through spectacular scenery. At the saddle between the valleys of the Haast River and Makarora River, the Haast Pass reaches a height of approximately 560 metres above sea level.
This route was a traditional pathway for Maori en route to the West Coast in search of pounamu (greenstone or jade).
Makarora is a stepping-off point for several multi-day walks in Mount Aspiring National Park.
A number of shorter walks line the highway from Makarora to Haast, taking visitors to deep blue swimming holes or cascading waterfalls.
At the Gates of Haast many travellers stop to photograph the wild water as it crashes down its steep boulder-strewn riverbed.
As the road drops down from Haast Pass, you can begin to smell the salt on the air and soon you'll see the ocean.