Lake Matheson

This beautiful glacial lake is located in the South Island close to Fox Glacier which we talked about last week. The iconic picture of this lake has been featured on chocolate boxes, beer bottles, calendars and souvenirs, and even on a postage stamp! It is the most photographed lake in New Zealand.

It is famous for the reflections of the twin peaks of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman.

Te Ara Kairaumati (the Maori name for the lake) was traditionally a food gathering place for the Maoris as they explored the coast in search of pounamu or jade. Eels which thrive in these brown waters were their traditional food.

Little bit into the past….

The retreat of the Fox Glacier 14000 years ago at the end of the last glacial period left behind a valley and a huge slab of ice which gradually melted and collapsed to form the lake bed. The lake is now about 12 km from the current terminus of the glacier. The gravel from the glacier dammed the valley and the lake grew by being fed by small streams and seepage. This lake is surrounded by dense forest and native bushes. The streams that feed the lake pass through this thick vegetation and carry organic matter and tannins from the forest which gives the water a dark brown colour enhancing its reflecting capacity.

Scientific studies have shown that the water here is acidic , lacks nutrients and tends to get deoxygenated. These are features of a dystrophic brown water lake and it is predicted that the lake will accumulate organic matter and gradually fill in to become a peat bog.

Well, that is going to take a few hundred years atleast…so no worries now…enjoy its beauty.

Little bit into the present….

Since the rise of the tourism industry in New Zealand, this has become an important tourist destination for its reflections of the Southern Alps. The most famous reflections seen on the lake are that of Mount Cook And Mount Tasman, the two highest peaks in New Zealand.

The reflections are best viewed at dawn on a calm clear day before the wind disturbs the water surface or clouds form on the peaks.

Our Trip:

As promised the previous day, Murray our driver arrived on time at our hotel. A short drive from Fox Glacier town, and we were at Lake Matheson…

The area around the lake is part of the Westland Tai Poutini National Park . There are a couple of walking tracks and viewing points along these tracks that offer the best views of the lake and the reflections.

An easy 2.6 km track circles the lake and we followed this track…

Some pictures that had us spell bound…..just come…walk along….

The start of the walk…

The dense bushy native plants around the track

A stream with well rounded stones that we had to cross

The swinging bridge over the Clearwater River

The Clearwater River….note the brownish colour of water

After we crossed the Clearwater river, the track took us in between some tall trees and native vegetation.

The dense vegetation

Further on the track we reached the viewing platform of reflection island.

The viewing platform at reflection island

Here we got some beautiful views of the forest and vegetation reflecting on the water.

View of reflection at reflection island

Finally we reached the most photographed location….the view of views….the reflection of the twin peaks…

The viewing platform at View of views

View of Views….as they call it….the two peaks reflected on the water.

One of our most cherished pictures….

After this we walked back along the track to the car park area where Murray was waiting for us. In the usual kiwi way, he offered to take us around the Lake Matheson area .

Some pictures…

Cattle and sheep graze in the backdrop of the Alps

The beautiful countryside

A helicopter takes off!!

And a couple sky dive…..

After some breathtaking views of Lake Matheson, we headed back to the hotel. Our next destination was Greymouth from where we took the Tranzalpine train to Christchurch. Meet you next week at Greymouth and on the Tranzalpine…an epic train journey indeed!

Till then, do give me your feedback and comments and don’t forget to subscribe