Lake Matheson. © DOC Creative Commons

Lake Matheson Walk


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The unsurpassed views and mountain reflections from the forested shores of Lake Matheson make this easy walk one of the most popular on the West Coast.

About the walks

Famous for mirror views of Aoraki Mount Cook and Mount Tasman, Lake Matheson is nestled in ancient forest just 5km from Fox Glacier. 

Lake Matheson was formed when Fox Glacier Te Moeka o Tūawe retreated from its last significant advance about 14,000 years ago.

During the last major ice age, the glacier spread across the coastal plains towards the sea, dumping huge piles of rock. The glacier ground a depression which later filled with water, forming the lake.

Lake Matheson’s excellent mirror-like reflecting properties are due to the dark brown colour of the water, the result of organic matter leached from the humus of the forest floor.

Car park to Jetty Viewpoint

How long will it take? This is a 40-minute return walk from the car park to the jetty.

The first section of the walk from the car park at the end of Lake Matheson Road to the Jetty Viewpoint is suitable for assisted wheelchairs. After crossing the Clearwater suspension bridge, the walk to the Jetty Viewpoint takes you past tall kahikatea and rimu as well as a rich profusion of smaller plant varieties.

The Jetty provides a magnificent mountain view reflected in the dark waters.

More mornings like this please #lakematheson New Zealand @natgeo

A post shared by Keith Ladzinski (@ladzinski) on Nov 23, 2017 at 7:08am PST

Lake circuit

How long will it take? This is a 90-minute return walk.

After walking to the Jetty Viewpoint, continue further around the lake. You will find a similarly magnificent mountain reflection shrouded in native foliage at the View of Views at the top end of the lake, and again at Reflection Island.

Dawn and dusk are the best viewing times as the lake is generally calm. 

Getting there

Turn onto Cook Flat Road in the middle of Fox Glacier Weheka township (this is well signposted). Travel 5km along this road then turn right onto Lake Matheson Road and drive to the end.

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