March 1, 2014
Haast is the last town on the south island’s west coast route 6 before the highway turns back inland. The area marks the boundary between the agricultural flat lands to the north and the fjord lands to the south.
Collyer House B&B is situated about 10 miles south of Haast just off the Jackson Bay road. The house faces the sea and has sea views from two of the three guest bedrooms. The third is on the side of the house and doesn’t have much of a view at all except that it does face in the direction of the setting sun. A wall of bushes, however, blocks a true sunset view.
The rooms are tasteful and decorated in a traditional style. Bathrooms are ordinary but clean, and the linens and bed comfortable but again ordinary rather than luxurious.
Neroli is a charming fourth generation native and cooks a lovely yet simple breakfast with both cold and hot options available. The muesli is homemade and the best we’ve tasted in New Zealand. The hot option was eggs and hash browns with bacon or sausage.
On our short visit – we arrived at 5PM and left the next morning at 9AM – Neroli suggested we drive down to Jackson Bay to the Cray Pot for dinner, just 30 minutes down the coast, and perhaps take a stroll along Neils Beach where the Waiatoto River enters the Tasman Sea.
The Cray Pot – a small operation out of converted trailer just big enough for a kitchen and 8 cozy tables – was doing good business at 6:30pm on a Saturday evening, just before closing time.
Tables are also available outside, but with the profusion of biting sand flies, not a good option on this particular evening. Neroli had told us that they had the best fish and chips, and they do.
I don’t order them very often but the light tempura like batter over a succulent blue cod was simply outstanding.
Don enjoyed a plate of their grilled blue nose also served with “chips”. A side salad can also be added to the order. No alcohol is offered.
After dinner we found the turn off for Neils Beach and cautiously drove down the dirt road as far as we dared before leaving the car and walking the rest of the way to river.
Just as Neroli described, the wide Waiatoto River flows at a pretty good clip into the sea. I imagine after a heavy rain or in the spring it is quite a sight.
The sunset on this particular evening was one of the most amazing I have ever seen. A riot of colors and shapes, looking more like an abstract painting than an evening sky.