HELP! - cycling the Haast Pass
Replies: 4 - Last Post: Feb 28, 2013 6:13 AM Last Post By: greatbigfatfish
Feb 27, 2013 2:05 PM
HELP! - cycling the Haast PassI'm looking for information about cycling the Haast Pass (South Island, NZ)...
my husband and I have been cycling for about 2 weeks, we're carrying all our own stuff - tent, camping equipment, clothing, food, etc - and therefore have quite a lot of weight on our bikes including a small trailer. currently cycling between 60kms - 90kms per day depending on hills & wind so have a decent level of fitness (we think). we managed the Lewis Pass with all of our stuff but are having difficulty finding out accurate information on how tough the Haast Pass is.
- how does it compare to Lewis Pass?
- is the road safe for bikes? (we've heard it's very narrow - any more so than the 'normal' roads on the South Island?)
- is it one long climb or are there flat breaks?
- is there any way to transport our pannier bags ahead to the next campground? busses won't take unaccompanied luggage...
any info would be GREATLY appreciated.
Feb 27, 2013 7:51 PM
1To my way of thinking Haast pass is very different from a pass as the mind set i had of a pass, to my thinking i think i am right in that it seemed more of a break in a chain of mountians at sea level, not a high pass up in the mountians as i had in my mind.
To give you some idea of the pass and its altitude, i might be wrong here but i don't think it could be very much above sea level because while we were there we done a jet-boat ride on the river at Haast pass, and i don't remember any snow, ice, mist or being very high while we were in the area.
Feb 27, 2013 9:59 PM
2The Haast Pass is not particularly hilly. It's the lowest of any of the 3 South Island passes. In general, it's a good road. It is not abnormally narrow. I drove my well-used 1996 Corolla through from Lake Wanaka to Haast in January 2012 and don't recall any places where I was labouring up the hills in a low gear! There are a lot of places of interest signposted on the way. It doesn't carry anything like as much traffic as the Lewis. It is a notoriously rainy area, but I had an excellent day.
Feb 28, 2013 3:55 AM
3I just drove through both of those passes and think the Lewis was more difficult, but I wasn't thinking about cyclists while driving. The weather could be a factor, but the Haast was easier for my car than the Lewis or Arthurs (which had steep sections). Lewis and Haast both beautiful with arcades of overhanging trees.
Feb 28, 2013 6:13 AM
4I live at Lake Hawea and have had several friends cycle from Haast to Lake Hawea to stay with us. The road is no worse than the rest of the West Coast - by the time you get to Haast you have already riden the narrowest/worst!
It is 125km from Haast to Lake Hawea and it is a fairly tough day. Friends who rode from the Haast Pass to Haast say they didn't pedal (i am sure they did pedal at the end)... There is one township where you can stop and refuel/purchase anything between Haast and Lake Hawea, about 75km into the trip (on the downhill side of the pass).
From Haast the road winds up a river bed for around 40km before getting steeper to the top of the pass (maybe 15km) then there down hill interspersed with flats to Makaroa (around 75km mark) and flat/river bed route to the head of Lake Wanaka. From there to Lake Hawea is undulating (read: hilly on a bike at the end of 100km + ride) until Lake Hawea. Please read a guide book for accurate distances.
The difference between this and the Lewis is the long distances between towns/ communities. There are less flat sections in the middle (Lewis is a relatively inconspicous pass whereas you will know you have arrived at the top of the Haast. It is pretty committing once you start as there are long distances with no shops/stops!
You mention camping equipment, you could break up the trip as there are several nice camp sites but you need to be totally self sufficient as they are DOC sites. One at the bottom of the Haast Pass, about 50km from Haast township; Cameron Creek around 5km Haast side of Makaroa; Boundary Creek part way down Lake Wanaka and finally one at Lake Hawea (20km before Wanaka).
Hope this is constructive. Let us know what you decide.
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