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Haast Road and Plaque at top of Haast Pass, 1965 | by Archives New Zealand
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Haast Road and Plaque at top of Haast Pass, 1965

Julius von Haast begins exploration of the West Coast, New Zealand on 8 January 1863. Haast was a 19th Century explorer who was also a geologist for the Provincial government of Canterbury, New Zealand. The Haast Pass is a mountain pass in the Southern Alps of the South Island of New Zealand. The pass was used by Māori in pre-European times.


It is one of the three passes where a road crosses over the Southern Alps; the other two are Lewis Pass and Arthur's Pass. The road through Haast Pass (State Highway 6) was converted from a rough track to a road in 1966 but it wasn’t until 1995 when it finally received a complete tarmac surface.


Julius von Haast led an exploratory expedition in search of an overland route from the east to the west coast of the South Island. The expedition found a suitable route from the upper Makarora River. Haast’s expedition also discovered the extent of the Grey River coalfields and found traces of gold in West Coast rivers. Although the prospector Charles Cameron is credited with discovering the pass, earlier in 1863, Haast was rewarded by having it named after him. He and his expedition reached the pass on 23 January. After crossing it they travelled down the banks of the river that would also be named after him, reaching the coast on 20 February.


As Canterbury Provincial Geologist from 1861, Haast led a number of comprehensive surveys of the province, giving Germanic names to areas of the landscape as he went.


Description: Haast Road - Westland, aerial view looking north from the Gap.

Photographer: Mr. Anderson.

Date: 1965.


Description: Haast Road Plaque at top of Haast Pass. Photographer: Mr. Anderson.

Date: 1965.


Archives New Zealand Reference: AAQT 6539 A77927 & AAQT 6539 A77921


The images above are from Archives New Zealand's National Publicity Studios collection.


The National Publicity Studios was established in 1945, but its beginnings can be traced back to the establishment in 1924 of a Publicity Office - part of the Department of Internal Affairs. The emphasis of this Publicity Office was on films, photographs and booklets.


The purpose of the National Publicity Studios was to provide advice to government departments and state agencies on the provision of photographic, art, and display services and in particular to assist in the production of publicity material aimed at conveying a favourable image of New Zealand.


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Uploaded on December 8, 2014