Walk Lake Matheson in the morning to get the perfect mirror reflection of Mt Cook and Mt Tasman

I totally loved this walk, we actually had to do it twice because no one told us in the afternoons the wind always picks up so no stunning reflections of the mountains.

The walk is easy on a very good track, it took us 1.5 hours to go around the whole lake, it’s a great short walk in Fox Glacier.

If you feel this is too long you can take the shorter 20 min walk to the first lookout, you’ll still get great photos from there.

We came across lots of great viewing platforms. It’s a 5 min, 5k drive from Fox Glacier to Lake Matheson. There is a very good cafe and clean toilets there. It gets busy though with lots of tourists though.

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Quick Facts about this walk

  • Location: Fox Glacier, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand
  • Distance: 2.6 km
  • Time needed: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Wheelchair Access: No
  • Route: Round Trip Circuit
  • Elevation: 94m
  • Wet Feet: No
  • Toilets: Yes, there is a big building with plenty 
  • Dogs: No
  • Mobile Coverage: No

Summary points about this walk

Points of interest and full walk description of Lake Matheson

Park in the car park and start walking at the cafe

The track to Lake Matheson starts between the cafe and the souvenir shop. There are no toilets on the walk so use the toilets at the end of the car park or the best option is the toilets in the cafe.

Turn off at the swing bridge

Three minutes into the walk you will cross a swing bridge. We had to wait in a line to get across the swing bridge, there was a bus load of people all trying to take photos of the creek at the same time causing a bottleneck. Five minutes into the walk we arrived at a junction, so we decided to get away from the mob and take the turnoff to the right.

Reflection Island – a great spot for photos

Arriving at Reflection Island and being surprised by the view of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman reflecting off the water made up for the forty minutes of a so so walk around the first half of Lake Matheson. Our last visit to the lake was spoiled by grey skies and a cold wind but today was perfect.

Boardwalk made for very easy walking

The boardwalk section was interesting after walking through the wet and cold green coastal bush, we stopped in the sun to warm up for a few minutes while looking at another mirror view of Lake Matheson.

The Jetty was another great viewing spot

I think the jetty had a different outlook to Reflection Island. Reflection Island is on the Northern side of Lake Matheson, hence you get a better photo of Mt Cook. I also found the jetty very busy because of the number of people who are not up to walking the complete circuit of Lake Matheson, the short twenty-minute walk is enough for them. The walk back was quick, we couldn’t wait to get back into the sun and warm up, so it was time for a flat white and a slice of cake in the Lake Matheson Cafe. The cafe was what we were expecting for a tourist attraction, 5 out of 10. At least the flat white was hot and the extra-long service gave us time to warm up in the morning sun.

This is the best website for discounted flights and Fox Glacier snow landings here. Huge savings of sometimes over $100!

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