Lake Matheson Mirror Lake Walk

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Lake Matheson is one of most photographed lakes in NZ because of its mirror reflection of Mt Cook and Mt Tasman. The walk is an easy 2.6 km on a very good track, it’ll take you 1.5 hours to go around the whole lake, it’s a great short walk. If you feel this is too long you can take the 20min walk to the first lookout, you’ll still get great photos from here. Lake Matheson has lots of great viewing platforms along the way. 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.

After you’ve finished your walk around Lake Matheson, why not relax in the main hot pools at Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools. Or even better, take a soak in the Franz Josef Glacier Private Hot Pools. The hot pools even have a Private Pamper Package!

Quick Facts

        • 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
        • Dogs: No
        • Mobile Coverage: No
        • Last Updated: March, 2020
  • Track Highlights


  • Track Quality

    The track is excellent, you will have no problem getting to any one of the three viewing platforms. On average the track was one meter wide with a good covering of gravel and a number of boardwalks to keep your feet dry, light shoes will be adequate for this walk. As for being wheelchair friendly? Taking the short walk clockwise to the jetty will be a hard workout because of the narrow gravel track and a few inclines on the way back to the carpark.

  • Hazards


  • Transport


  • Water


  • Driving Instructions


  • Shops or Restaurants nearby

    There is a cafe and souvenir shop at Lake Matheson which is pretty good. My suggestion is to go to Fox Glacier or better still, the Snake Bite bar and cafe in Franz Josef.

  • Area & Track History

    Lake Matheson, like most of the lakes in this area was formed by a Glacier. Lake Matheson can thank the famous Fox Glacier for making it so famous some 14,000 years ago. Some say you might see a long-finned eel swimming around in the black tea coloured lake. Don’t hold your breath, but you will be treated to a chorus of song from NZ’s stunning Tui’s and Bellbirds, an added plus.

  • Best Things To Do near this walk

  • Map location of Lake Matheson Mirror Lake Walk

    Map of walk

Points of interest along the walk

In the map above, if you zoom in on the walk, you’ll see all the following track points and their location. Each point has photos along with a description about each one.

Point 1: Lake Matheson

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 off the carpark or the best option is the toilets in the cafe.

Point 2: 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.

Point 3: Reflection Island – 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.

Point 4: Board walk – 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.

Point 5: The Jetty – 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 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.

Point 6: Relax in the Glacier Hot Pools after your walk

It can get quite cold in Fox Glacier even in the summer. The new hot pools located in Franz Josef town (only a 25 min drive from Fox Glacier) are an excellent place to relax and warm up after walking around Lake Matheson. Book a single ticket to the main pools or enjoy the luxury of a private pool. Even better is the private pool pamper package where you’ll have extra’s with a robe and antipasto platter for 2. For more details about the Glacier Hot Pools click here.

Point 7: Book the Franz Josef Hot Pools below:

All walks in Fox Glacier…

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