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Explore Lake Matheson

Fox Glacier, New Zealand

based on 2 reviews



2.7 miles

Elevation Gain

98.4 ft

Route Type



Added by Connor Bruson

Perfectly capture the epic sights of Mt. Cook, Mt. Tasman, and Fox Glacier in the crisp reflection of Lake Matheson's dark brown waters.

The Basics: Just a few kilometers outside the town of Fox Glacier, Lake Matheson provides stunning vistas in a mere 4.4 km return walk alongside a river, through dense foliage, and by expansive fields. Your adventure begins at a large carpark, complete with restrooms and a full-service cafe. This is a popular tourist destination, and travel bus companies like Stray and Kiwi Experience often stop here in the mid-mornings. 

The Walk: The track to Lake Matheson is well-signed from the carpark and begins with a short suspension bridge over the small river. The path is handicap accessible through this section to the closest edge of the lake. At this point, the Jetty Viewpoint provides a good photo-op across the lake, but you will want to continue around either side of the lake to get to the main photo ops that face the snow-capped mountains. Continuing counter-clockwise around the lake, views expand on your right-hand side across sweeping plains before a backdrop of jagged peaks. The gravel path then begins to climb through thick trees until you reach the Reflection Island Lookout. Just a few hundred meters further is the View of Views Lookout at the far end of the lake. Continue around the lake to complete the loop and grab a coffee at the cafe while you review all of your awesome shots.

Get the Shot: The two main viewpoints for photography are Reflection Island and View of Views. They both offer basically two versions of the same shot across the reflective lake waters. Reflection Island Lookout is built into the lake on a wooden dock, and it gives a straight-on perspective towards the major snowcapped peaks. The shot from Reflection Island is pictured above. View of Views Lookout's perspective contains a broader landscape of mountains with Mt. Tasman and Mt. Cook in the right-hand corner instead of center frame. The best time to snap a picture is in the early morning; the water is undisturbed, the low angle of the sun hits the mountains but doesn't reflect off the water, and the tourist bus crowds haven't arrived yet.

Secondary photographic opportunities are abundant along the walk. As mentioned and pictured above, the open grassland with the mountains in the background makes for a stunning capture. The Jetty Viewpoint focuses on the beauty of the lake itself, reflecting the reeds, trees, and plant life along the lake's borders. If you want to step up your photographic experience, book a flight with Fox Glacier Helicopters to see it all from the air! While you're in the area, you can also Hike to the Fox Glacier or Hike to the Summit of Mt. Fox above Fox Glacier

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Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Picnic Area
ADA Accessible

Explore Lake Matheson Reviews

Such an amazing place for sunrise photography, we got up super early to see the sunrise over the mountains and catch the coveted Mt Cook reflection and it was well worth it. The bush and birdlife in the area is also quite amazing and would be worth a look at anytime of day. Definitely a must do when in the area

Went for a walk around the lake about midday with some friends as we are making our rounds on the South Island. Beautiful walk with a lot of neat signs to stop and read detailing about the lake as well as the plant life around it. The view of views is breathtaking. That, and being able to enjoy the light mist that was settling on the lake made the whole experience mystifying.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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