Today we left the vans behind at the Haast campsite and headed down the 40km stretch of road to Jackson Bay. This is the last stretch of sealed road on the West Coast. After Jackson Bay the land becomes the Fiordland National Park which is only accessible by sea all the way down to Bluff and Invercargill.
Travelling through what is Beech and Podocarp forest along with native Rimu and Rata tree’s gave us some idea what the early settlers would have seen upon their arrival to the new land. In the 18th and 19th centuries this area was settled by sealers and whalers who didn’t use or need much land. In 1874 there was an assisted immigration programme of many nationalities to settle what was to be Arawhata township. The settlers who may not have been too familiar with breaking in bush land into arable land found conditions very difficult. What with the isolation and flooding separating families many were forced to give up within the first 2 years after crop failures due to the excessive wet weather that this coast is renowned for. They measure rainfall in this area not in inches but in feet having the highest rainfall in New Zealand.
These days Jackson Bay is a small fishing community with a few houses and refrigerated storage for the fish and lobsters the fisherman land.There is a cafe called the Cray Pot which is reputed to be the best sea food cafe on the coast but we couldn’t wait until opening time to put the story to the test.
Returning to camp and picking up the vans it was time to head off to our next stop over at Jacobs River. We called into Ship Creek and Knights Point to take in the scenery. At the former we decided to stop for lunch but we were forced into the safety of the vehicles as the sand-flies decided it was their lunchtime also, US. Several brands of insect repellents had no success in keeping the little devils at bay. Needless to say we didn’t hang around longer than necessary.
Knights Point has a memorial celebrating the opening of the road between Westland and Otago. In the 1930’s everything had to come into Westland by air or sea. In 1960 the road was opened across the Haast Pass to Jackson Bay but the rest of Westland had to wait until 1965 before the road was completed. The last 10 kilometre’s took 2 years to complete due to the rain, flooding and unstable land. Needless to say the West Coast has broken the backs and hearts of many a good man who has tried to tame this land.
Knights Point World Heritage Highway, West Coast.Commemorating the opening of the Westland to Otago road via Haast.SH6 along the sea front North of Haast.Pet Red Deer hind at Pine Grove Motel and Motor Camp.