Forest dunes by a windy West Coast beach. This is an introduction to the vast Haast coastal dune system.
It opens out to provide magnificent photo opportunities from platforms overlooking the dune lake to the sweep of coastline south-west to Jackson Head.
Ship Creek is well signposted 20 km north of Haast on SH6. There’s a large parking area with toilets.
From the carpark a short section passes interpretation on the Marine Reserve and then forks to form the loop.
Entering the dune forest, the track passes a viewpoint over the raupo fringed lake.
There is a 3-way junction. All roads lead home. Another viewpoint commands a view straight down the beach and dune series.
Return to the carpark either via the beach or track.
The dune systems of Haast are among the finest in the world. In most places fancy coastal property has obliterated the dune profiles. The dune systems are like solidified waves and here they are preserved.
Pedologists have studied the soil profiles, from the newest dunes near the coast, to the oldest at the toes of the hills - a sequence of over 6,500 years. Each parallel ridge represents an ancient shoreline. As debris transported by the rivers is dumped at the coast, it is mechanically ground up by wave, water and wind. Persistent westerlies then blow the light sediment inland, where it collects in waves and is consolidated by vegetation. As the plant material dies and decays, it forms embryonic soils, which deepen in a positive feedback loop. Over time, the prodigious rainfall leaches nutrients out of the soil. The rainforest can live with it, but grasses for farming can’t. That’s part of the reason this forest is still intact.
South Island ▷ West Coast ▷ Haast
Very nice lookout over the bay.
Save up to 70% on campsite fees! Support conservation and experience the natural beauty of NZ. 74 Department of Conservation campsites, one convenient pass.
Beautiful, interesting couple of walks here. One through cool swampy forest and the other over the beach. Lots of information points, we learnt loads about the history of this area. Spent about 2-3 hours wandering around this unique spot.
Access savings worth hundreds of $$ on Top Ranked NZ Accommodation and Activities for just $1 per day.
Beautiful beach, dune lake, short walking track, rainforest background, lovely place to stretch legs after driving over Haast Pass.
Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍