Ilya Genkin Fine Art Landscape Photography, Travel Photography

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Lake Matheson

South Westland, South Island, New Zealand


Lake Matheson, near the Fox Glacier in South Westland, New Zealand, is famous for its reflected views of Aoraki/Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. A traditional mahinga kai (food gathering place) for Maori people, the lake contains long finned eel as well as being home to many water birds.

The waters of Lake Matheson are dark brown, so on a calm day they create the ideal reflective surface. The colour is caused by natural leaching of organic matter from the surrounding native forest floor. By a happy coincidence, the mountains to the east are perfectly positioned to reflect in the lake.

Lake Matheson located five minutes drive from Fox township. The walk from the car park takes about 40-50 minutes to the lookouts, or 1.5 hours around the lake. The best view is from the Reflection Island Lookout. The track is well maintained, and there are boardwalks and specially made platforms for getting the right angle for your pictures.

Lake Matheson 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. It is situated on the valley floor about 12 km from the current Fox Glacier and Aoraki/Mount Cook, the highest peak in New Zealand, and Mount Tasman.