En Route to Haast
Just 1 hour south of Fox Glacier (62km/38 miles) is the Salmon Farm Café, State Highway 6, South Westland (tel. 03/751-0837). The menu is predictably "fishy," with both fresh and smoked salmon dishes in abundance. It's open daily from 8am to 4pm, with shorter winter hours. It's a popular stop for tour buses, so try to avoid the main lunch hour or you'll face a long queue. The food here is still fine, but the place is definitely looking a little shabby from the outside and could do with a makeover.
Farther south, the magnificent vistas from the Knight's Point View Point are worth a stop to take in sandy coves, bush-clad hillsides, rocky headlands, and ocean views.
Haast itself is 121km (75 miles) south of Fox Glacier. The South Westland World Heritage Visitor Centre is at the junction of State Highway 6 and Jackson Bay Road (tel. 03/750-0809; fax 03/750-0832; www.doc.govt.nz). The center has excellent exhibits on coastal highlights and is open daily from 9am to 4:30pm, May through September (closed 12:30-1pm), and 9am to 6pm October through April (closed Dec 25). The Edge of Wilderness movie costs NZ$3 per person.
If you feel like getting some fresh air in your lungs before the long journey further south, join the crew at Haast River Safari ★★★, the Red Barn, Haast Junction, SH6 (tel. 03/750-0101; www.haastriver.co.nz), for a breathtaking exploration of the remote Haast River. The 90-minute tour costs NZ$139 for adults, NZ$99 for children 13 to 16, and NZ$59 for children 5 to 12. It's a leisurely, informative trip (rather than a high-speed adrenalin kick) designed to give you a rare peek into the wilderness backcountry.
En Route to Wanaka
The highway between Haast and Wanaka is magnificent, moss-covered, and often misty. It follows the course of the Haast River for much of the way. High peaks rise up on either side of the road. The route took 40 years to build and is 563m (1,847 ft.) above sea level. The Department of Conservation has created many walks along the way. Traveling nonstop, the trip to Wanaka should take 2 to 3 hours. Be prepared to make camera stops along the way of stunning waterfalls and river views.
En Route to Queenstown
Highway 6 is good traveling all the way to Wanaka. From there, the trip to Queenstown will take around 1 1/2 hours. You drive around the edge of Lake Dunstan, which was formed behind the Clyde Dam. Bypassing Cromwell township, you then travel through the stone fruit orchards of the Cromwell area. After passing through the Kawarau River Gorge, you come into Gibbston Valley and on into Queenstown.
If you're a competent driver, you could also go to Queenstown via the Crown Range. It's unsuitable for caravans and can be slippery and icy in winter, but the views from the top are stunning, and it's 30 minutes shorter than State Highway 6. If you are crossing the Crown Range in winter, it is now a legal requirement to carry chains. If you don't have them, expect a NZ$200 fine. They are available for hire from most gas stations in the Wanaka/Queenstown area.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.