Snowcapped mountains reflected on Lake Matheson. © Karl Jancar

The Lake Matheson walk: a photographer's dream


View the map

TAP FOR MORE INFO:

Just a 5km drive west of Fox Glacier – look, you’re in the neighbourhood, you may as well – is the unbelievably beautiful Lake Matheson.

The reason the buses pile in here every day is that the lake, particularly at sunrise and sunset, gives off such a reflection that you may be struck by Stendhal’s syndrome: palpitations at the sight of such beauty. Truly.

Nature, of course, giveth, and nature taketh away, so there’s no guarantee that you’ll get what’s often referred to as the ‘placemat photograph’. The reflection is augmented, if that’s possible, by the fact that, when the conditions are right, it’s the peak of Aoraki Mt Cook mirroring itself at you. That’s something else, right?

Partly this purity of view comes from the brown colouration of the water, which is caused by the leaching of organic matter into the water from the forest floor.

Not very romantic, but thought you’d like to know.

But even without that, this is a stunning stop on the way. There’s a good walking track that loops the lake, which leads to several lookouts, the ‘View of Views’ one, weirdly enough, giving you that real moment. There are good meanderings to be had through stands of forest – especially the kahikatea and rimu – and across rolling farmland.

But everywhere, that quiet imbues the whole place with a peace that will surprise and delight. The stillness also reflects the natural sounds around, so bird calls seem particularly resonant, especially if you’re there once the buses have up and left.

Explore more...


Be the first to comment on this page. You cannot post comments until you have logged in. Please log in or register if you don't have an account.

More stories like this

Find out more

Natural attractions

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park: home to our own Everest

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is a rugged land of ice and rock, with 19 peaks over 3000 metres, including New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki Mount Cook.  Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Things to do

Lake Matheson Walk

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. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Things to do

Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers

Many of the crinklier bits of New Zealand’s geography were formed by the slow but insistent action of glaciers. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Natural attractions

Lake Matheson: the perfect mirror

If you find yourself on the West Coast in a reflective mood, you’ll also find you’re in good company. Read the story . . . 

Where to stay in West Coast Region

4.3 /5
4.3 /5
Ascot Motor Lodge Visit website

Experience the hospitality and attractions of the Buller region with its adventure activities, unique natural beauty and fascinating history. Ascot Motor Lodge is located in . . . More . . . 

4.7 /5
From $125
4.7 /5
Annabelle Motel Visit website

PRIVATE, QUIET, SPACIOUS AND LUXURIOUS. Here at Annabelle Motels, you cannot help but relax, unwind and enjoy your time here in our beautiful town.Our motels . . . More . . . 

From $125
Stations Inn Visit website

Located just 3 minutes from Hokitika township on the Historical Blue Spur Goldfields, capturing majestic views of the Southern Alps, Tasman Sea and breathtaking sunsets. . . . More . . . 

4.8 /5
From $110
4.8 /5
Scenicland Motels Visit website

Welcome to Scenicland Motels - offering you quality accommodation at an affordable price. Our motel offers you 5 new executive suites and 9 very spacious . . . More . . . 

From $110