If you pull out on this map, you'll see that Jackson Bay (and Haast itself) are perched at the edge of the vast Mt Aspiring National Park, at 877,224 acres NZ's third-largest national park.
South of Haast, the coastline turns westward along a 24 kilometre, gently curving bay to Jackson Head. This headland provides shelter from the prevailing wind direction, and here a fishing harbour has survived since the early pioneer days of seal hunting. Jackson Head also marks the southern end of the west coast's narrow river plains. Beyond this point, the steep mountain ranges plunge directly into the sea - the first of the deep glacial fiords is just 60 kilometres away...Jackson Bay is one of only two known areas in South Westland regularly used as a nursery area by the rare Hector's dolphin females and their calves. When you visit this remote and geographically-gifted region, it's easy to see why it has been designated a World Heritage Area.Jackson Bay is literally the end of the road. And as always, getting there was half the fun.
We made three stops Sunday: Jackson Bay Fishing Village (where there are more penguins and seals than people), the Pioneer Cemetery, and Neils Beach.
Fishers are after the spiny red rock lobster, harvested year-round in NZ (where they're called crayfish), with about 70% of the catch originating in these waters. China is a primary market. Also bluenose (Editor's note: red rock lobster and bluenose have yet to appear on our fish list).
A look back toward the village, maybe 50 souls living here, if that many.
Maori tribes prospered in this area, trading valuable greenstone (jade) from the Red Hills and Cascade River valley. Attempts by European settlers to conquer and farm this challenging land proved fruitless; most soon moved further up the coast or over the ranges to Queenstown.
Sadly, the Craypot cafe was closed for winter.
No Hector's dolphins, but we did see seals frolicking near the shore.
Walking the 20-minute Wharekai-Te Kou track took us from here to paradise. It was recommended by our campground host, who called it remote yet accessible. The perfect combination.
Every surface wrapped in growth.
If you cast your eye back toward the map at top, our path cuts across the headland at Jackson Bay, dropping us on a tiny alcove west of the headland.
We spent at least an hour here, utterly quiet except for the water's relentless push and pull.
Here's one more quick vid, and audio will enhance the moment. Fresh water meets salty...
Grave markers withstand time's test.
Quiet, sacred ground.
A glorious day along this stretch of rocky deserted beach, save for the wood tossed onto shore like so much fiberboard.
And good day to you, sociable little bird.