Day 2 of our long weekend to South Westland and we’re off to Lake Matheson to try our luck with the camera. The Lake is famous for its reflection photos of Mt Cook and Mt Tasman but you need near perfect conditions – both with wind and with the cloud that often sits over the mountains.
Lake Matheson is to the west of Fox Glacier off Cook Flat Road. The car park for the bush walk is ideally situated in front of the Matheson Cafe and Lake Matheson Gift Shop. The cafe is cleverly positioned so you have to walk past it to access the start of the walkway to the lake – tempting perhaps for a cuppa or ice cream afterwards. We’ve timed our walk to finish at the cafe and meet our friends Bernie and Gerard from Holly Homestead for lunch.
This is a beautiful bush walk. Absolutely filled with Rimu trees. Walking along and I have to make an admission to Stephen….. it is one I’ve been delaying for sometime…… honey…… I’m in love….. with Rimu trees! Honestly these things are just beautiful – towering high above us and so majestic. The bush is also filled with numerous Kahikatea trees as well as many smaller NZ plant varieties – all adding to the atmosphere of the forest.
OK, so not to brag or anything but WOW – we have the MOST PERFECT conditions for the reflections on the lake. Usually you have to be here first thing in the morning or late afternoon/early evening to get the right conditions so turning up mid morning we didn’t really hold too much hope for the reflections. It’s a gorgeous winter’s day – sunny skies, just enough cloud around to add some interest to the sky – a nice day for a bush walk.
There are fantastic opportunities as you do the loop around the lake for views to the mountains. We strike it so lucky – not a breath of wind, not a ripple on the lake affording us the most magnificent views we could have hoped for. Views of Mt Cook and Mt Tasman and their reflections in the lake. It is hard to know where to look as the reflections of the forest are also fantastic. But wait for it……
This is the one EVERYONE tries for. It features in just about all New Zealand guide books. All our guests make mention of it but very few go home with the photo. You might get the reflection – the still water but there will be cloud hiding the mountains. You might get the mountains but the breeze will send ripples across the lake to ruin the reflection.
Not today though, not for us, we got it perfect.
Each corner we turned gave us another perspective of this amazing scenery. I was stoked before I saw the lake and the reflections – I love a good bush walk but to see this, I still haven’t got over it. It was quite the experience. It must be the longest we’ve ever taken to do what is pretty much a simple walk.
Off to the next view-point and we come across these locals seemingly oblivious to their surroundings – happy enough to sleep on while mother nature puts on her show for us.
Soon enough, after I’ve picked up my jaw from dragging on the ground and managed to avoid tripping myself up, we leave the lake and the forest for the final little open valley walk back to the cafe. Mother Nature hasn’t finished with us yet though with one last lookout seat with views to the Southern Alps.
Back to the Matheson Cafe to meet with Bernie and Gerard and a well deserved lunch stop. Fantastic cafe, great atmosphere, service, food and company. What a finish to our morning. Ready for our next adventure this afternoon – bring it on…….
Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth (northern West Coast region). They love to get out and explore the wonders that make up the West Coast and discover all the little gems. Check out their other blog postings or activities page for ideas of things to see and do when you are ready to visit the West Coast of the Southern Alps.