South Westland Gems – Lake Matheson


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 cafe

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.

swingbridge to Lake Matheson

rimu trees lake matheson walk

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.

forest and mountain views Lake Matheson

forest views and reflections lake matheson

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……

Mt Cook and Mt Tasman reflections Lake Matheson

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.

jetty viewpoint lake matheson

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.

ducks with best views lake matheson

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.

views to mountains from lookout seat lake matheson walk

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…….

matheson cafe fox glacier and views

Matheson cafe, Fox Glacier

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.

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About coastingnz

Jan and Stephen live on the Punakaiki coastline, north of Greymouth on the West Coast, NZ and run Breakers Boutique Accommodation. They both enjoy the outdoors and are passionate about things to see and do on the West Coast and would like to share their experiences with you.
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4 Responses to South Westland Gems – Lake Matheson

  1. I was also lucky when I visited Lake Matheson. I’ve visited hundreds of beautiful lakes over the years, Matheson still wins for reflection shots. –Curt

  2. bulldog says:

    This sounds another divine place to visit in the land of NZ.. the photos are just too good to be true (glad to see the water mark)… I hope my reblog has gained you a few more followers to view these unbelievably good photos of unbelievably beautiful places… getting to love NZ more and more through your Hubbies photos… will have to be careful, will be screaming for the All Blacks just now

    • coastingnz says:

      LOL – you are so classic – either making me laugh through your own blog or with your comments on mine. Look forward to finally meeting you and your family one day – either here in or in South Africa – you never know!

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