New Zealand Lovely Walk 1 - Lake Matheson Lakeside Walk
Lake Matheson is the most photographed lake in New Zealand, I was told. And it’s easy to see why. On a clear day, its surface reflects Mount Cook like a mirror. The guidebooks will tell you that the best time to go there is early in the morning or late in the evening, when the water is most calm.
However, don’t count on the clouds cooperating all the time. When we were there, the peaks were constantly shrouded in gray clouds. It was nevertheless quite breathtaking.
We did the 1.5 hour return Lakeside Walk. This lovely walk is under the canopy of luxuriant South Island rainforests. Here and there, we peeked through openings in the vegetation and caught glimpses of the peaks of the Southern Alps.
There are a few lookouts along this route. The Reflection Island Lookout is the most spectacular – unfortunately for us the mountains were shrouded in the clouds.
Tree ferns and their overhanging fronds abound. You need to take a slow walk and look at the moss-covered slopes and ground, and experience the freshness of the moist air.
The sounds of bubbling brooks were never far away. We even encountered a mini-waterfall. Now and then, we just stood still and took in the crisp calls of the birds. Here, the solitude is inviting and the silence magical, especially at dusk.
My suggestion for anyone going to Lake Matheson – don’t just get to the first lookout for the photos, walk the entire perimeter circuit. And end your walk with a drink at the Matheson Café. Sip your coffee and continue to enjoy the views to the Mount Cook.
Lake Matheson’s History:
18000 years ago, the glaciers retreated and the ice melt left an area quite flat. Rainforest grew and surrounded the area. The European settlers saw that the surrounding grassland was suitable for farming and converted most of the surrounding area into grazing farmlands.
6 km drive from Fox Glacier Village. Turn right and drive for a minute to the car park.