Today we managed to achieve the plan for the trip: to go to the West Coast and explore! We had been watching the weather forecasts over the last couple of days and it was looking good on the Coast, and hence why we had headed to Wanaka the previous day. It is a reasonably simple 3 hour drive from Wanaka to Haast, but of course we had to factor in photo stops so it would probably take most of the day.
We were up at 7am to shoot the sunrise, but again the weather was against us. I wandered for 1/2 hour up the beach from the camp to a river mouth to shoot, and Liz stayed around the camp. The cloud was hanging really low and there was no sign of the sun at all. I headed back to the camper to have breakfast and pack up, and headed off about 9am.
We drove back into Wanaka to get some diesel and groceries for the next few days, and then headed for SH6 to Haast. The sun was peeking through the low clouds as we drove north along the side of Lake Hawea and then across to Lake Wanaka. The weather slowly cleared as we made our way north and it was fine by the time we got to the Blue Pools walkway. We walked 20 minutes down through stunning forest to the Makarora River, then across the swing bridge to the canyon where the Blue River enters the Makarora, to the Blue Pools. Hung around for a while taking photos then back up to the main road, and had some lunch.
Drove on up the road, stopped at the Fantail Falls and then the Gates of Haast, a little bit past the Pass itself. The road up to Haast Pass reminds me of the drive to Milford Sound, but on a smaller scale, and with less traffic. We carried on down the Haast Valley following the Haast River, a stunning drive in the afternoon sun.
We turned off to drive through Haast township and then onto the Jackson Bay Road, through forests, then out along the coast of Jackson Bay to the 'town' of Jackson Bay (about 15 houses and a couple of warehouses for the fishing / lobster boats). Parked up in a car parking area (free camping) next to the sea at about 3pm. We had a walk around the area and then sat and watched the fishing boats come in and unload.
Walked to the wharf to shoot some photos then back to the campervan, for dinner. Very quiet evening with only 2 houses with lights on.