The Haast River

The Haast River

It really is hard to describe just how heavy the rain was while driving through the Haast Pass. The previous evening, while staying in Makarora the rain had started sometime during the night. By morning it had only gotten harder on the succeeding drive through the Haast Pass to the West Coast. Once there, I discovered the rain had only managed to get more intense. So, several hours later I found myself travelling back through the Haast Pass on my way to Makarora, passing swollen rivers and substantial waterfalls.

The Haast River

State Highway 6 & The Haast River

The Haast River Bridges’ claim to fame is that it’s New Zealand’s longest, single lane bridge. It’s 750 metres in length, it was opened in 1962, it carries State Highway 6 across the Haast River and is often considered one of the most spectacular bridges in the country. Also, depending on which direction you’re heading, State Highway 6 and the Haast River Bridge either takes you to Fox Glacier, Franz Josef, Hokitika and further on to Greymouth or through the Haast Pass to Makarora. Either direction is amazingly spectacular and well worth the trip.

Thunder Creek Falls In The Haast Pass.

Thunder Creek Falls– Buy 

It started raining some time early in the morning. Now, several hours later having driven through the Haast Pass to the West Coast township of Haast, it seemed to be getting harder. I parked by the Haast Bridge, ate lunch in the car and went for a walk beside the river before starting the drive back to Makarora. On the way, I stopped at Thunder Creek Falls. 

The falls are an impressive 28 metres high and the recent heavy rain had left the river level high and the falls heavy with water. By the time I reached the viewing platform for the falls, the rain had gotten harder, heavier, was coming in sideways and for some reason I had only brought an fairly ineffective umbrella.

The Haast Pass

Snow on the Haast Pass– Buy 

As I once again followed the Haast River along State Highway 6 (the Haast Pass-Makarora Road), it was at a place called Greenstone Creek that I decided that the rain wasn’t going to stop anytime soon. By the time I got to a place called Harris and Glitterburn Creek I noticed the rain seemed to be getting harder and at Roy’s Creek the river levels seemed a lot higher than earlier. Still, I pressed on back to Makarora, past waterfalls that had names such as Depot, Roaring Billy, Thunder, Diana and Fantail before the steep ascent through the top of the Haast Pass. It was then that the rain turned to snow. Not more than three hours earlier the same road had been covered in nothing more than rain. Now, it was covered in snow, thick mountain snow with large snowflakes that were settling quickly on the ground. Just before the summit of the pass I reached several vans that had stopped and at the summit itself, under the trees a gathering of vans and four-wheels drives were celebrating the winter snowfall with a liquid afternoon tea. Not being able to resist, I stopped for a bit and enjoyed the thick, new fallen snow that covered the pass. It almost seemed impossible to believe that this was the same place I’d driven through, earlier in the day. Late in the afternoon as I arrived back in Makarora the valley was surrounded with snow while beyond the mountains the sun was starting to set. It was all rather pretty.


Haast – Buy 

In the morning it was raining and a light dusting of snow covered the surrounding mountains. The rain had started sometime overnight and it had been pretty hard ever since. After shuffling around my room and sorting myself for the day, I loaded my car and set off for the small West Coast town of Haast. A drive that was around 80 kilometres and would take me over the Haast Pass, a mountain pass in the Southern Alps of the South Island. 

The journey to Haast took me just over an hour and it rained all the way. In fact, the closer to the West Coast I got, the harder it rained. By the time I reached the hustle and bustle of Haast, the rain was torrential. 
I ate lunch in the car by the bridge and contemplated why people might want to live in Haast. With the rain showing no sign of stopping and Haast having very little hustle and no bustle, I headed back to Makarora.