|Haast to Cromwell, February 29, 2008
We headed east on Highway 6 along the Haast River, a braided river in a wide gravel bed. It was raining steadily but the road was good and we were able to drive along at a pretty good speed. Waterfalls were visible along the valley walls beautiful with great gushed dropping steeply before draining into the river. Several single lane bridges crossed streams as we drove along. We didn't stop for any photo ops due to the weather however on a sunny day these stops would have been frequent and well worth it. There were several short walks along the way as well but not offering much of a temptation as we were dry and preferred to stay that way. It was a pleasant temperature despite the rain. The highway, which was finished in 1960, climbs up to Haast Pass to cross the Southern Alps mountain range, then drops downward on the way to Lake Wanaka. The thick, lush rainforest of the west side of the divide gives way to smoother, less vegetated slopes resembling the Kamloops area. Sheep on the slopes become more plentiful with a few beef cattle here and there. There is a much more open feeling here as you drive along Lake Wanaka and then Lake Hawea. On a clear day there would be spectacular mountain views however our visibility was pretty limited due to the low cloud.
Somewhere along the way it stopped raining although the clouds continued to be threatening. We continued on to Cromwell and orchards and vineyards and a few wineries lined the highway to the base of the hills much of the way after Wanaka. Cromwell is a new town, purpose-built when the Clyde Dam flooded the original town.