The drive between Wānaka and the West Coast is one of the most spectacular in New Zealand. You’ll get great views by the side of the road, and there are also some walks if you’re keen to stretch your legs. The Haast Pass Lookout Track is short and steep and has awesome views of the surrounding mountains — keep reading for all the details!
The Haast Pass Lookout Track is near Makarora — 8 km from the Blue Pools (the most popular walk along this road — car park pictured below). There’s a car park with a sign saying it’s 30 minutes to the top. We saw a couple of cars pull up and give it a miss — a 30-minute slog uphill isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time I guess!
Haast Pass Lookout Track
The track takes you through the forest for a start and is uphill the whole way. It’s steep in parts but is easy enough — I ran up most of it as I was in a hurry to get to Lake Matheson for sunset and I’m definitely not a runner!
You’ll get the occasional obstructed view along most of the track, and just before the top the track opens up to reveal the true beauty of the mountains.
At the top you’ll get a great view of the Haast Pass area — it’s as lush and dramatic as any mountain area in the South Island and it’s cool to see it from this angle. It’s unlikely to be busy up there either.
There’s a narrow track which takes you along the ridge but the view isn’t too different.
You’re probably wondering whether it’s worth doing this track for the views alone, considering how much you can see from the road. It’s obviously quite a different vantage point, and it’s cool seeing the road you’re driving down from above like that. It’s not a must-do either though, especially if you’re planning to do the Blue Pools and some of the waterfalls. Hopefully, you can use this information to help decide whether the Haast Pass Lookout Track is right for you.
How Long Does It Take?
It took me around 30 minutes return with some time at the top but I ran / power walked a lot of it (not fit just in a hurry). With a decent walking pace it’d take around 25 minutes to the top and 10-15 on the way back down.
Where to Next?
The road continues through the mountains to the coast, with Haast being the first settlement you’ll come to. There’s heaps to see along the entire stretch between Wānaka and Haast — check out our post for lots of tips!
Are you planning a trip to New Zealand? Check out our two-week South Island itinerary!
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