Explore our regions
Tucked between two moraine terraces on the northern side of the Cook River Flats, Lake Matheson is one of the most iconic ‘postcard’ scenes in New Zealand. It has long featured on chocolate boxes, beer bottles, calendars and even the 1946 New Zealand Peace Stamp.
Lake Matheson is famous for mirror-like reflections of Aoraki/Mount Cook and Mount Tasman on calm clear days. The lake was formed about 14,000 years ago when the Fox Glacier retreated from its last major advance towards the sea and left a depression which later filled with water. The excellent reflecting properties are thanks to the dark brown colour of the waters, the result of organic matter leached from the humus of the forest floor.
The Lake circuit is one of the most popular short walks in Westland Tai Poutini National Park.
Things to do
The full 2.6 kilometre circuit around the Lake takes around 1½ hours return. There also is the shorter option of the 20 minute return walk to the jetty that is wheelchair friendly. Don’t forget your camera and reward yourself with a coffee and some gourmet food at the Matheson Café afterwards.
Turn onto Cook Flat Road in the middle of Fox Glacier village (this is well signposted). Travel 5 km along this road then turn right onto the side road to Lake Matheson.
Lake Matheson Area in the ‘Walks, Tramps, Tracks and More’ section.