Haast Fishing Trip: A CamperMate Cruise

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I recently took a weekend break and headed away for a bit of quiet time in one of the few areas of New Zealand still without cell phone reception… Haast, on the wild West Coast!

publicly accessible water tap tekapo
This publicly accessible tap provides clean tap water at a rest area. There are a couple of picnic tables here also. A great place to restock your water bottles on a hot day.

I can understand if this doesn’t sound like your ideal break! But, after spending so much time connected by way of smartphone, I could think of nothing better than a leisurely road trip. Especially when it would include a spot of fishing. 

On the way

Leaving Christchurch on Friday lunchtime, there was a sense of urgency in the air. Like myself, others were also escaping the city for the long weekend. This resulted in a bit more care needed on the road.

It was a hot day with an army of Cicadas lining State Highway 1. After an hour or so, I realised this was a great opportunity to hunt out some more points of interest (POI’s). I found some good new water sources that hadn’t been added by others through the app.

crown range lookout
The drive from Queenstown to Haast via Wanaka is one of my favourites, as you find yourself driving over the Crown Range.

Time got away on me a little while collecting other POI’s, so I arrived in Queenstown late in the evening. There I met up with my fellow fishermen.

lake hawea
Past the beautiful Lake Hawea (this photo was taken with my iPhone 5 and a filter added on Instagram) but ‘in the flesh’ it looks amazing still!)

Queenstown to Haast

We prepared for leaving early the next morning, bound for Jacksons Bay, 25 minutes drive south of Haast. This route would take us over the Crown Range, past Cardrona, and through Wanaka. From there, it’s a beautiful drive north past Lake Hawea, and the stunning Blue Pools Walk and Devil’s Bath.

We eventually reached Haast where, as mentioned earlier, cell phone coverage on any of the networks was non-existent!

Relief and panic set over me at the same time. This would soon give way and I could sit back and enjoy the time here… as soon as mosquito repellant was applied!

Haast’s Mosquitoes

Haast is somewhat renowned for its mosquitoes! I highly recommend you stock up on repellent, and make sure to secure your sleeping area! The buzzing mob will find any hole and have your campervan or tent singing in no time.

haast beach

Before dinner, we took a quick look at the beach to see what the conditions were like for the fishing trip the next day. Luckily, it looked amazing!

After some sleep, we got up to start the 25-minute trip south from Haast to Jackson Bay at 6 am. Here, we were greeted at the Jackson Bay Wharf by bigger and hungrier mosquitoes. This prompted us all to apply more repellant!

The public toilet at Jackson Bay was an adventure, with so many mosquitoes trying to find a piece of skin! It was a case of getting out to sea as quickly as possible to avoid the swarming gangs.

jackson bay wharf, haast
Jackson’s Bay Wharf

And so the fishing trip began! We were heading out about 13kms and to a depth of 350 metres to fish for Bass, Groper (aka Hapuka).

We had heard that the tuna were also running. They do for about 3 months a year along the coast near Haast. As always with fishing, there were no guarantees. The conditions were looking great though, so we were hopeful!

It took some time to reach the sweet spots, where we put our rods out. We managed to catch a few tuna, a big Blue Cod and a couple of Bass, cousin to the Groper.

calm day off haast

The conditions were uncommonly good for this stretch of coastline which normally consists of heavy seas. It was so flat in fact, that the skipper said he hadn’t experienced anything like it for years.

Conclusion

If you get the chance, I would strongly recommend taking a trip to Haast and carrying on to Jackson Bay. You’ll find lots of other campervans along this stretch of coastline.

It will be no mystery why once you get there.

Remember to pack the mosquito repellent!

Adam and friends stayed at Wilderness Accommodation which had clean and tidy facilities at a great price, and showers that were a great temperature also.