- From Haast, take the road direction Jackson Bay. After approx 40km take the turnoff over the Arawhata River to continue for another 20km on Jackson river road towards Martyr Homestead.
- Haast – Barn Bay road end: 1hr driving.
- Wanaka – Barn Bay road end: 2hrs45
- Queenstown – Barn Bay road end (via Crown Range): 3h45
- Alexandra – Barn Bay road end: 3h40
- On Google Maps, search for “Martyr River” to see approximately where the road ends.
- (April 2015: the large slip at Diana falls near Haast pass has been secured and Highway 6 is back to normal. Should a slip block the highway, make sure you find out about road closures – often during nighttime, so you can make it home back in time!)
The bach (rather more a beach house!) we rented is private property and you’ll need to ring the owners to book and pick the keys up on your way through Haast. For further details feel free to ring Good Rotations 03 443 4349.
Please remember to bring your rubbish out with you, and giving the bach a nice clean before you leave. The next people will be happy to find it in good condition.
Starting from road-end it is an 18km return trip (36km total), first on flat 4WD farm track, then through – at times – very rough 4WD track in the bush. Count on 3 river crossings each way: Cascade River once and Hope River twice (the latter two can be avoided, especially if the tide is in and high, but otherwise it’s the fastest way to/from the bach).
Fatbikes are ideal here – you’ll hate your regular mountain bike on a lot of sections of this trip and they would be pretty pointless on the beach! If you like to take it real easy on your bike or if you’re with less skilled riders, you may want to ride the first 9km, and then hide the bikes in the bush to walk the last 11km.
Whether dry bags strapped on a rack, frame bags or panniers, make sure your important gear is waterproof as you will be crossing the Cascade river on the way in and back, and if you decide to take your bikes all the way to the bach you are more likely than not going to cross the Hope River twice, just before the estuary. Depending on the season and rain in the month leading up to your trip, the second half of the trip could be mostly through very gouged and puddled tracks!
Perfectly doable in two days, but if you allow an extra night, you’ll get the full benefit from staying in a great bach on a stunning beach, which you really want to go and explore, especially if you got there on a fatbike – they are, after all, the perfect toy mode of transport (!) to explore a sandy beach! Best season would be late summer (longer days ) or winter (less sandflies but colder rivers!) just make sure there has been no rain for the last few days and the forecast is clear for your trip: rainfall could make the river crossings too dangerous, especially with a bike. Try to leave no later than midday from the carpark, especially in winter when daylight is limited. All in all, it probably take you 4 or 5 hours to get to the bach, but depending on fitness and ability, you may have to push your bikes on some stretches, or want to rest your shaken bones (if you’re not on a fatbike that is, lol).
Not really needed but nice to have. If you have GPS on your smartphone, make sure to download (about $20) the South Island topo maps to your phone before your trip (Map App SI), and it will make navigation nice and easy.
- This is a great place to pack light!
- Only bring your food and a change of clothes to use in the bach.
- There are hut-shoes available, so just bring super warm socks to defrost your feet after all this water-travel!
- There are also a few duvets and blankets kicking around so you don’t really need to bring your sleeping bag unless you’re with a big group. Just bring a liner/pillow case for maximum confort.
- There’s light (solar-powered, so limited), but if you bring candles it will be so much nicer. Don’t forget your head-torch in case you arrive late in the day and need to suss out how to turn the lights on, etc!
- Fireplace, plenty of dry wood, pots and pans and utensils, as well as gas for cooking, all is there, so bring “complicated” food if you fancy! I had no regrets for bringing 12 eggs in my tiny backpack!
- Buy and pack all your food at home. Haast has a few but expensive supplies and shops have limited opening hours. You’ll have to carry all your rubbish out, so pack accordingly. Plus its always good to make sure you can fit all your stuff in your bike bags while still at home.
- There’s also a shower and a firebath at the bach, so bring a sarong or a pack towel if you want to indulge in some warmth at the end of the day!
- If you are planning a winter trip, bring plastic bags to put around your socks, inside your shoes – it will keep your wet feet warmer. Alternatively, get a pair of thin wetsuit socks/booties that will fit inside your bike shoes or trainers!
- There’s lots of fresh water around once you get to the lower part of the valley, but given that there’s cows around, I recommend you bring your own drinking water (can refill at the bach), especially on a hot sunny weekend.
- Sandfly repellent. A must!