Kahikatea Swamp Forest Walk

Kahikatea Swamp Forest Walk - Ship Creek

Kahikatea Swamp Forest Walk

Ship Creek


9 Rankers Reviews

6 Face-to-Face

8 Haast

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

Nau mai, haere mai

I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.

I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!


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Boardwalks over the swamp forest


800 m return | 20 minutes return

One of the best examples of swamp forest that you will come across and well worth stopping for on your journey along the West Coast.

Visions of swamp monsters rising from the murky depths, memories of Flash Gordon or more recent beasts from Axel Scheffler and Julia Donaldson’s 'Room on the Broom'. This is a swamp to awaken the imagination.


After heavy rains the access to the track can be under water. This is a swamp after all.


Ship Creek is well signposted 20 km north of Haast on SH6. There’s a large parking area with toilets.


A lofty lookout tower which can be climbed with ladders gives good views of the coast and the nearby Dune Lake Walk (30 min return, 1 km). Under the road bridge the track forms a loop and after rain can become part of the swamp. Extensive boardwalks allow you to walk on water and get close-up with the kahikatea. Well-designed and presented interpretation panels show the forest and swamp ecology systems and some history of the ‘butter-box’ tree.


The kahikatea is a lowland tree, which is often the dominant tree to colonise wet and boggy ground, but also tolerates drier sites. It is the tallest native tree, sometimes topping 60 metres in height, and grows at less than 600 metres altitude. Differing growth stages exhibit differing forms. The rather mangy seedling grows to a distinctive conical form in its youth. When mature, the crown opens out. The wood is straight grained, easily workable and durable. Europeans used the odourless wood to make butter boxes, as it did not impart any undesirable flavours.

The tops here are often bald, presumably defoliated by the salt laden winds.


This is the domain of Te Namu. Keep moving on still days.


Feature Value Info


DOC West Coast

Central government organisation


South IslandWest CoastHaast


  • Walking
  • Free


S Weslake's avatar

S Weslake

United Kingdom

Ranking: 7/10

Decided to stop off for lunch here whilst driving between the glacier and Wanaka. Beautiful place, not great surf though, and I did not expect sandflies, but they were out on force! Worth a stop if you can beat the sandflies.

Reviewed about 4 years ago and experienced in March 2018

Simon Nienhaus's avatar

Simon Nienhaus


Ranking: 10/10

Beautiful spot. The trees in the forest and the views of the bay were amazing.

Reviewed almost 5 years ago and experienced in January 2017

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Florent Peytavy's avatar

Florent Peytavy

Ranking: 9/10

Very nice short walk.

Reviewed almost 7 years ago

Saskia's avatar



Ranking: 9/10

Well done track through the swamp.

Reviewed over 7 years ago and experienced in February 2014

Richard's avatar


United Kingdom

Ranking: 9/10

Ace spot. Would be 10/10 except for the sandflies.
Saw a pod of Hector dolphins playing in the breakers.
Great views of the sea over the sand dunes.

Reviewed almost 8 years ago

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Rainer's avatar



Ranking: 8/10

Very nice walk along the beach and dunes, lookout tower, second walk into a swamp possible.

Reviewed about 9 years ago and experienced in March 2013

Sven Woelk's avatar

Sven Woelk


Ranking: 6/10

Good place but too many sandflies.

Reviewed about 9 years ago

Christian's avatar



Ranking: 8/10

Between Haast and Fox. Nice view and two short walks - bush and beach walk.

Reviewed over 9 years ago

DOC Managed

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 😍

Cymen Crick's avatar

Cymen Crick

Rankers Owner