Lake Gault is a gem that rivals nearby Lake Matheson. There are incredible sweeping views of Aoraki/Mt Cook and Mt Tasman and on a good day these will be reflected in the waters of Lake Gault.
Like neighboring Lake Matheson, the dark waters of Lake Gault create magnificent mirror reflections. The best time of day to view the reflections is early morning when the lake is calm and before afternoon clouds sweep the mountains. However, the lake is set amid stunning scenery and can be enjoyed at any time of day. This walk is a must-do in Glacier Country!
The Lake Gault Track
The historic track covers a distance of 8km and it takes approximately 3 hours return. The Department of Conservation class it as an easy walking track. Beginning from the Lake Matheson carpark follow the Lake Matheson track in an anti-clockwise direction and you will reach a sign posted turn off.
The track climbs 200m gradually through lush ancient podocarp forest with several small stream crossings. As you climb you will catch views of the valley then as the track flattens out you get glimpses of Lake Gault through the vegetation, continue on to the lookout point. When at the lookout you can sit on the bench, take a break and soak in the breath taking vistas!
Lake Gault History
The original track was hand cut to provide access to service a hydroelectric power scheme; a pipeline took water from Lake Gault over the ridge to a small hydroelectric power station. The scheme generated electricity for a mining dredge working the sands of Gillespies Beach in the search for gold. The boom of the gold rush was over but the dredge was used from 1932-1945 with some success. After this the track fell into disrepair.
The track was resurrected in 2019 after being abandoned for 20 years. Rebuilding the track was a community led project, led by The Fox Glacier Community Development Society in partnership with the Department of Conservation. The majority of the work was put in by local volunteers. In 2020 the track was upgraded as part of a package to sustain tourism in the area.
The Rowi Kiwi
Rowi Kiwi have been released in the forest surrounding Lake Gault. The Rowi is New Zealand’s rarest Kiwi species. In 1995 there were only 160 Rowi in the Okarito forest. The Department of Conservations recovery programme was very successful in boosting the numbers that they outgrew their Okarito home. Lake Gault was selected as a release site in 2018 when 27 young Rowi were released. In 2020 another 5 kiwi were released near Lake Gault.
This is a great walk in some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery.
For more information on these walks and other walks in Glacier Country click here.
Before you start your tramp please remember to:
- Check the current track conditions and weather forecasts at the Westland Tai Poutini National Visitor Centre before starting your trip.
- Always take warm and waterproof clothing as the weather can change rapidly.
- Carry drinking water, insect repellent and sun protection at all times.
- No dogs permitted in the area.
Thank you to the Department of Conservation for these stunning photos.