Haast River, named after Sir Julius von Haast, rises near Haast Pass in the Southern Alps and flows north in a deep, narrow mountain valley to join the much larger Landsborough River, to which it gives its name. The river then follows a west-north-westerly direction through a glaciated, relatively wide, gravel-floored valley with high, nearly vertical sides broken by hanging valleys and stream fans, to the narrow coastal plain, reaching the sea 60 miles from the source and 145 miles south-west of Greymouth.
The catchment area of 510 sq. miles consists mainly of rugged mountains often exceeding 5,000 ft in height, with their lower slopes clothed in native bush. The river, fed from permanent ice on the Alps and the Hooker Range, is subject to flash floods, the greatest measured discharge being 257,000 cusecs. The minimum flow is not known.
A highway extends from Haast (pop. 102) at the mouth of the river to Haast Pass and Wanaka, in Otago, and a bridge at the mouth of the river gives access to a road being built southwards from Westland. The new route will be opened in late 1965 and will be a magnificent tourist attraction.
by Frederick Ernest Bowen, B.SC.(DURHAM), New Zealand Geological Survey, Otahuhu.