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Stunning Reflections of Mount Cook at Lake Matheson, West Coast

Stunning Reflections of Mount Cook at Lake Matheson, West Coast

Have you ever seen a photo on Instagram that inspired you to visit a place? Ever since I saw a photo of Mount Cook reflecting in the calm waters of Lake Matheson I’d wanted to see it for myself. There are two keys to a successful mountain reflection though — a clear day and an almost complete lack of wind. We had neither of those things when we started the walk.

Hiking around Lake Matheson

There are a few different viewpoints around Lake Matheson and it takes about 90 minutes to do a loop of the lake. It was sunny when we started but clouds were huddled around the mountains. There was also a slight breeze. We got to the first viewpoint and it certainly wasn’t as good as I’d seen in photos. We pushed on in hope of getting those iconic views further around the lake.

We eventually made it to “the View of Views”, a slightly too boastfully named lookout above Lake Matheson. It’s definitely a nice view though, and at this point things were looking a little brighter.

Soon after “The View of Views” is the Reflection Island viewpoint. This is where those perfect reflection shots are taken. When we arrived the light breezes were messing up the mirror effect, but we willing to wait. We saw around 50 people come and go while we waited for the clouds to clear and the lake to calm. Luckily, both of those things happened. It’s an incredible place when the conditions play along. Everything reflects in the mirror-like lake: the surrounding trees, the blue sky, the clouds and, of course, the mountains. We were happy to see one of New Zealand’s top viewpoints at (close to) its best.

After getting our fill of mountain reflections, we continued on the track towards the car park. We got some nice views of Mount Cook (the clouds had completely cleared by then) looming over farmland along the way. The Lake Matheson Track is quite easy, as there aren’t many hills to conquer. It’s flat and wide for most of the way and is doable for most levels of fitness. There’s also a cafe / restaurant with nice views by the car park, perfect for those family / group members who have been dragged there against their will and would rather relax than walk.

Getting to Lake Matheson

Lake Matheson is located on the South Island’s West Coast, 4 km from the Fox Glacier Township. You can get a bus to the town and then walk to it (we saw quite a few people doing that) or, ideally, you’ll have your own transport. The Lake Matheson Track is one of many short walks in the region, including Fox Glacier, Franz Josef Glacier and walks around Ship Creek. The West Coast is one of New Zealand’s most beautiful regions — you can easily spend a few days (or weeks) exploring it.

READ MORE: Hiking the Franz Josef Glacier Track, West Coast

Did you enjoy our post about Lake Matheson? Where are you favourite views of Mount Cook? Let us know in the comments below!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.